Current Spotlight

Greg Tooley
Greg Tooley
Graduate Student
Kansas State University
Department of Biology

 

Recent Spotlights

Luiza Teixeira-Costa
Luiza Teixeira-Costa
Postdoctoral Fellow
Functional Ecology of Plants and Ecosystems
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
 


Danielle Gafford 

Danielle Gafford
Undergraduate Student
Biological Sciences
University of Missouri

 

Shawn K. Thomas
Shawn K. Thomas
Graduate Student
Biological Sciences
University of Missouri

 

Andrea Berardi
Dr. Andrea Berardi
Postdoctoral Fellow
OEB and Harvard University Herbaria
Harvard University

 

Rocio Deanna
Dr. Rocio Deanna
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado, Boulder

 

Nicholas J. Engle-Wrye
Nicholas J. Engle-Wrye
Graduate Student
Department of Biological Sciences
Mississippi State University

 

 

 

 

Past Spotlights

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The BSA Spotlight Series, created and run by the BSA Student Social Media Liaisons, highlights early career scientists in the BSA community. Scientists' profiles are shared on all BSA social media platforms, Membership Matters, the BSA eNewsletter, and on this webpage.

The spotlight series shares both scientific goals and achievements, as well as personal interests of the botanical scientists, so you can get to know your BSA community better.

Are you an early career scientist, or do you know an early career scientist that we should highlight in our Spotlight Series? Click here to fill out a simple form. This opportunity is open to current early career (undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral positions) BSA members, to learn more about becoming a BSA member click here.

Below is the most recent early career scientist Spotlight. To see more information on past Spotlights, use the menu to the left.


Greg Tooley
Graduate Student
Kansas State University
Department of Biology
Posted 6-17-22

Twitter: @ecophysgreg (Twitter)

Greg Tooley

 

I am interested in the ecophysiology of woody plants that encroach grasslands. My research focuses on the mechanisms that enable dogwood (Cornus drummondii) to encroach the Kansas tallgrass prairie. Because dogwood is the predominant woody encroaching shrub, people typically view it negatively. However, if you put this fact aside, it’s an amazing plant. Dogwood is a short shrub, forming dense clonal stands termed “islands.” Each island is a single organism sharing an interconnected root system. The canopies of dogwood islands contain greater areas of leaves per ground area than most temperate deciduous forests, despite their short stature. As a result, vegetation is absent below its canopies, allowing dogwood islands to escape grassland fires. For most plants, having canopies with leaf area values similar to dogwood is problematic due to the limitations of self-shading. To better understand how dogwood overcomes this problem, my research investigates the vertical distribution of leaf traits in dogwood canopies to give a better understanding of the mechanisms that enable dogwood to maximize photosynthetic rates across highly varied light conditions. For my second research project, I am excavating intact root systems of dogwood and then using a 3D handheld scanner to create root system architecture models to evaluate the impact of aboveground disturbance on these belowground structures.

 

Image from Greg Tooley

 


How Greg got interested in the botanical sciences:
Even though I grew up in the Kansas Flint Hills countryside and loved spending time in this environment, it wasn’t until taking an undergraduate botany course at Fort Hays State University that I became particularly interested in plants. My botany professor’s passion molded my love for plant science and inspired me to pursue a career in plant ecophysiology. For my master’s degree, I was fortunate enough to return to the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie and pursue my research interests in Dr. Jesse Nippert’s lab at Kansas State University. My time at K State has increased my interest in studying grassland ecosystems.

 

Image from Greg Tooley


Greg's advice for those just starting their botanical journey:
Most importantly, have fun and spend time exploring your interests within and outside your field. Secondly, don't be scared to ask questions to professors and graduate students. They were once in your shoes and can have very good advice.

 

Other Passions:
Recently, I have become obsessed with a board game called Settlers of Catan. I enjoy drinking coffee with my significant other, lifting and sports, being in nature, and cooking.