From Plant Press Vol. 17 no. 2, April 2014.
Over the past year University of the District of Columbia student interns, Christopher Wellman and Samira Khan, have been conducting research on legume systematics with Department of Botany Research Associate, Karen Redden. These students are part of the NSF-HBCU-UP (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program) funded STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Center for Research and Development. The UDC STEM Center is designed to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education and research at UDC, and serves as a means to broaden participation in the nation’s STEM workforce.
Using the botanical collections and the molecular facilities at both UDC and the Laboratories of Analytical Biology at the National Museum of Natural History, Wellman and Khan used morphological and molecular characters to better understand the evolutionary relationships of two genera within Leguminosae subfamily Caesalpinioideae. Using a phylogenetic approach, Khan has been exploring the floral morphology of the diverse genus Eperua while Wellman has been investigating the diversity and distribution of Dicymbe.
Both interns presented their results at two national conferences: Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM in Washington, DC, and the National Institution of Science/Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society Annual meeting in Houston, Texas. Both students received travel awards to the two meetings and Khan placed second in the Biological Sciences oral presentation section at the Houston conference. Khan is a graduating senior and will continue her research at the graduate level. Wellman is a junior and will be continuing his research at UDC and the Smithsonian this summer and the next academic year.