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Science Policy Fellow - Jennifer Summers

Implementing Organization



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Funding Organization

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – Gulf Research Program (NASEM - GRP)

Funding Program

NASEM Gulf Research Program Fellowships


Project Category

Human and Social

Project Actions

Education and Outreach

Targeted Resources

Human and/or Institutional Capacity

Project Description

Ms. Summers is from South Carolina. She earned her B.A. (magna cum laude) in biology and French from Furman University. She has worked as a teacher at the non-profit sustainable agriculture school CFFL in Corporant, Haiti and as a graduate teaching assistant. She won two awards for excellence as a graduate teaching assistant at Tulane University and has completed numerous workshops on scientific teaching and community engagement. Ms. Summers' Ph.D. work spans time at Tulane University in New Orleans and University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK). Her research focuses on the evolutionary potential of the foundational coastal marsh sedge Olney’s bulrush. She uses a approach known as resurrection ecology, which involves reviving dormant, centuries-old seeds from sediments and growing them alongside descendant plants. Her dissertation includes elements of functional genomics, population genomics, ecology, and conservation biology to document whether and how heritable traits rapidly shift in response to climate change. Her 2018 paper in Evolutionary Applications won the departmental award for best publication by a graduate student at UTK. Her time as a graduate student also includes extensive outreach and public engagement. Ms. Summers has worked on numerous departmental committees, served as a graduate student senator, an advisory board member for Safe Zone at UTK, and volunteered for numerous women-in-STEM initiatives. She writes for the public about science in publications such as Scientific American. She wants to continue to work at the intersection of science and public engagement, with a vested interest in promoting responsible mitigation of the impacts of climate change.


Karena Mothershed
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