Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Isha Mahajan

Reconstructing the Composition and Diversity of the Eocene Gulf Coastal Plain, U.S. Using Leaf Architecture Analysis

Leaves adapt to environmental conditions such as temperature, precipitation, CO2 levels, and light. They vary in size, venation, margin shape, and other characteristics to maximize energy conservation. Therefore, fossil records of leaves can be used to infer past environmental conditions. This project focuses on studying plant communities, specifically their diversities, and compositions, in the early Paleogene of the Gulf Coastal Plain using fossil leaves from Tennessee and Kentucky. The goal is to visit these clay pits ourselves, retrieve and explore fossils, and understand which communities thrive in specific environmental conditions for better predictions of the impact of global warming on plant communities.

Message To Sponsor

I am expressing my deepest gratitude for this summer grant. This invaluable support will allow me to embark on an exciting field expedition to explore fossils and delve into the mysteries of our paleoclimate. I am genuinely honored and eager to make the most of this experience, and I look forward to sharing my findings upon return
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology - Cell Biology, Development & Physiology
Mentor: Cindy Looy, Integrative Biology
Sponsor: Leadership Fund
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