Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Melody Nyoni, Staff Writer
Cedar Crest’s Dr. Amy Faivre, associate professor of biology, presented her research at a meeting held by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Portland, Ore. this summer. Her project, titled “Assessing pollen viability among genotypes of the federally endangered Florida ziziphus (ziziphus celata) Rhamnaceae,” is based in central Florida where she studies endangered plant species endemic to that area due to its higher altitude. Her work is geared towards finding out why these plants are not successful at making seeds or fruit which is necessary for reproduction.
Faivre, who works in collaboration with scientists from the Archbold Biological Station and Florida International University, began the project in the 2009-2010 academic year during her sabbatical, as Cedar Crest supports faculty sabbaticals. It was funded by the Florida Division of Forestry.
At the meeting, where she also acted as a mentor to undergraduates, graduates, and post-doctoral fellows, she met former mentee Katherine McCarter, a Cedar Crest alumna who is currently the Executive Director of ESA. On meeting Faivre she said, “With nearly 5,000 scientists rushing around the Portland Convention Center, it was a wonderful surprise to run into Dr. Faivre. Her presentation about an endangered flowering shrub enhanced our understanding of this endangered species and highlighted how liberal arts colleges make strong contributions to ecological research.” McCarter attributes her career success to the educational foundation she received at Cedar Crest.
It wasn’t all work with no play though. She took time out to have fun when she attended a field trip to Mt. St. Helens in Washington State with scientists who are researching the species that recolonized the area after a volcanic eruption in 1980.
“It was an exciting opportunity to reconnect with people from graduate school and with people that I have taught before,” she said, adding that, “a major benefit for going to meetings is talking to other researchers about your research.”
Faivre, who has been a faculty member at Cedar Crest since 2002, teaches freshman biology, botany, evolution, case studies in bio conservation among other courses. In addition to teaching, she mentors students working on independent research projects. Students she has worked with in the past have gone on to be successful, notably Morgan Dorsey, a 2010 graduate whose senior thesis was based on her Florida project, Dorsey is currently pursuing Physician Assistant studies at the Philadelphia University.
She has also been instrumental in the success of the biodiversity and conservation biology program (BCB) which is popular within the Biological Department. BCB program director Cigliano commented that, “She has helped make the program very successful on campus and her work is contributing very significantly to ecology.” A sentiment shared by McCarter, “Dr. Faivre’s leadership in the BCB studies at CCC will ensure that graduates of the college will continue to play an important role in ecological science for years to come.”
Faivre said that “hearing about pollination biology and the decline of several important bee species was interesting because it’s important for conservation and agriculture, it’s such a hot topic!”