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Native Plant Society of Texas

2022 Top Recipient of the Ann Miller Gonzalez Graduate Research Grant

By Native Plant Society of Texas,  Education Committee

The Native Plant Society of Texas offers grants to Texas university graduate students to support research projects related to Texas native plants or the conservation and restoration of Texas native plant habitats, through the Ann Miller Gonzalez  Graduate Research Grant Program. This research grant is named in honor of an early supporter of Texas native plants. The maximum amount of each grant is $2500 for the duration of the grantee’s research project. 

Congratulations Xinyi Yan!

The Education Committee would like to introduce our 2022 top recipient, winner of a $2500 Ann Miller Gonzalez Grant, Xinyi Yan, PhD candidate, Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin.

Headshot of person with long dark hair, wearing a hat, stands in front of pond
Xinyi Yan, 2022 recipient of the Ann Miller Gonzalez Grant

Xinyi Yan studies Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at The University of Texas at Austin, co-advised by Drs. Caroline Farrior and Amy Wolf. Her research focuses on interactions between plants and soil microbes in a changing world, and how these interactions shape plant coexistence and community assembly. To answer these questions, she uses a variety of approach such meta-analysis, theory, field experiment and soil sequencing.

Under anthropogenic change, the loss of plant diversity and of soil microbial diversity can reenforce each other, and the feedback can have cascading effects on ecosystem functioning. My proposed research aims to help understand the link between Texas native plant diversity and their soil microbial communities. In particular, I aim to answer how plant taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversities each influence soil microbial diversity and composition, and how the diversity-diversity links differ under conditions of altered precipitation and biotic interactions. To answer these questions, I use a local field experiment of 12 Texas native plant species with treatments of plant taxonomic diversities, plant phylogenetic diversities, watering, and insect exclusion. I helped collect plant trait data and will sequence soil fungal communities collected from each treatment plots. I will then conduct statistical analysis to explore the relationship between soil fungal diversity (and composition) and the treatments. Results from this project will help elucidate the impact of biodiversity loss and environmental change on plant-microbe interactions, and provide insights on native plant conservation and soil restoration.

2022 Grant Recipients

Additional and previous winners’ bios and research summaries can be viewed at Past Grant Recipients.