Plant & Pollinator Center Receives Funding from the Dorothy Levis Munroe Research Fund

GREENSBORO, NC – JUNE 13, 2024 – In the 2023-24 academic year, the College of Arts & Sciences Office of Research supported 20 UNCG students with nearly $20,000 in grants from the Dorothy Levis Munroe Research Fund. The fund was endowed by alumna Dorothy Levis Munroe ‘44 to support student research in the “natural and mathematical sciences.”

All 20 students conducted research in STEM departments: twelve in Biology, four in Chemistry and Biochemistry, two in Computer Science, and one each in Mathematics and Nanoscience. Students won support by submitting a research proposal and project budget up to $1000, depending on their project needs. Five Munroe grant recipients were undergraduate students, fourteen were graduate students, and one was a post-bacc student.

The list of items purchased with Munroe funds shows the diversity of research undertaken by these student scientists. They used award funds to purchase:

  • 250 Pine seedlings, 144 bluestem grass plugs, potting soil, and pots
  • Dissecting scissors, nets, an aquarium bubbler, and a heavy-duty wagon to haul these and other tools needed for collecting and tagging fish in streams across central NC
  • Carbon nanotubes to study DNA uptake of duckweed
  • Fluorescent Yellow Particles and Fetal Bovine Serum for research into the uptake of microplastics by human endothelial cells, which line the inside of our blood vessels.
  • Kits for genetic analysis in experiments with the drought-resistant grain tef
  • Chemical reagents and organic solvents
  • Lab supplies such as Erlenmeyer Flasks and well plates.

Munroe grants also supported travel by students to conduct research and attend conferences and scientific meetings. Their work took them to places near and far, including:

  • Fieldwork in Morganton and Elizabeth City, NC to study the ecology of chigger mites.
  • Fieldwork in South Africa’s Kruger National Park to study the effects of drought, fire, and extreme grazing on grasslands.
  • Fieldwork in the Gateway Research Park and at UNCG’s Plant and Pollinator Center.  The UNCG Plant & Pollinator is located at the 75-acre Gateway Research Park located on Summit Avenue in northeast Greensboro.  
  • Fieldwork at the Konza Prairie Biological Station in Kansas to study grassland recovery following nitrogen cessation in areas previously subject to chronic nitrogen addition.
  • NVIDIA’s GTC 2024, one of the top Artificial Intelligence conferences, to gain insights to improve a project developing new processes for clinical trial recruitment.
  • The Wildlife Society’s annual conference, to present a poster on phylogeography and flea community ecology of the long-tailed ground squirrel.
  • The International Computing and Combinatorics Conference, to share a paper titled “Improved Sourcewise Roundtrip Spanners with Constant Stretch.”
  • The Joint Mathematics Meetings, to share mathematical research into ecological models of species interactions.
  • The North Carolina Academy of Science annual meeting, where the student won the John Bowley Derieux Research Award.

Many of the students also participated in UNC Greensboro’s Graduate Research & Creativity Showcase of Scholarship or in the Thomas Undergraduate Research & Creativity Expo, where they presented posters or gave oral presentations.

Dorothy Levis Munroe graduated as a chemistry major from UNCG in 1944, along with her twin sister Katheryne Levis McCormick. Munroe went on to earn a master’s in chemistry, teach high school mathematics for many years, and become the first woman to serve on the board of education in Newark, Delaware. By endowing this fund at UNCG, Munroe hoped to encourage students to pursue the sciences by providing resources for their research.

Source:  UNCG Office of Research and Engagement