AUSTIN, Texas—Heidi Meudt, a postdoctoral botany researcher at The University of Texas at Austin, is one of 34 winners of an International Research Fellowship Program award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Meudt will use the 22-month grant to study how Ourisia, a genus in the snapdragon family found in the alpine mountain regions of South America, New Zealand and Tasmania, has evolved in New Zealand.
Ourisia’s dispersal over thousands of miles of land and sea has fascinated scientists since the voyages of British naturalist Joseph D. Hooker from 1839-1843.
The average award size of a fellowship in the program is more than $100,000. The NSF makes the awards to support research abroad in biology, physics, engineering, geosciences, computer science, and social and behavioral sciences. Its aim is to enable talented American postdocs to become future international leaders in their field.
“This is a wonderful opportunity from the National Science Foundation,” Meudt said. “I was open to going to another country for the next phase of my career and we loved New Zealand.”
The title of her project is: Rapid Speciation In The New Zealand Alpine Flora: An Integrated Approach to Assessing the Impacts of Geological, Ecological and Other Selective Forces on the Evolutionary History Of Ourisia Plantaginaceae of Selective Forces.
The research will combine data from field work, greenhouse crossing studies, genetic studies, geographic information systems and statistical hypothesis testing.
She’s made previous field trips to New Zealand as well as South America and Tasmania, where the flower also is found.
Meudt will conduct research in New Zealand for two years. In the first year, she’ll work at Massey University in Palmerston North with Professor Peter Lockhart and in the second year at Victoria University of Wellington with Professor Phil Garnock-Jones.
A native of Dodgeville, Wisc., Meudt received a bachelor’s degree in biology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She earned her doctor’s degree at The University of Texas at Austin where she studied with Dr. Beryl Simpson, the C.L. Lundell Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Section of Integrative Biology in the College of Natural Sciences.
For more information contact: Tim Green, 512-475-6596.