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Seaver College Alumna, Jordyn Regier, Earns National Research Award

Santa Monica Mountains

Jordyn Regier, a 2021 alumna of Seaver College, was recently awarded the 2022 Li-COR poster prize by the Botanical Society of America for her project entitled Substrate Type Affects the Drying Speed and Desiccation Tolerance of Fern Gametophytes.

“I’ve been working on this project for about a year… It was very rewarding to have those long hours in the lab - going there after dark - after my classes were let out - [pay off]. It’s rewarding to have the project recognized,” admits Regier. “I was nervous about presenting at a national conference with a bunch of graduate students, professors and professional researchers, but it feels really fulfilling that my project was recognized out of all the others.”

The Li-COR poster prize is an annual award distributed by the Botanical Society of America. Specifically, the honor seeks to, “acknowledge the best presentation made by any student, regardless of subdiscipline, at the society’s yearly meeting.” As a result of the award’s prestige, Regier’s research was judged against other undergraduate and graduate projects from around the U.S. 

In her study Regier sought to discover the effects substrates have on one stage of the fern life cycle (the small and potentially delicate gametophyte) in an attempt to determine how the plant survives in the dry, warm Southern California environment. She and her labmates tested five different substrate surfaces, evaluating the varying levels of moisture available to their plant species. In the end, their findings indicated that a soil may slow the drying speed of a fern gametophyte, thus facilitating their desiccation tolerance. This means that ferns growing in the Santa Monica mountains could have a higher tolerance for low moisture as a result of their substrate environment. 

“Ferns are found in every environment, and they play a big role in the ecology of other plants. Many times they are found in the understory of redwoods, so they are [responsible for] filtering the forest floor,” explains Regier. “It is a concern, as we have longer periods of drought – as temperatures are rising, how these ferns will be able to survive; or if they will be able to survive, especially in the Santa Monica mountains. That was what my research was looking at: will these plants be able to resurrect from losing all of their water in this life stage? And what conditions make it so they are able to survive this?”

Regier took on the task of answering these questions, utilizing Pepperdine University’s SURB program in the process. Under the tutelage of Dr. Helen Holmlund, Regier stayed on campus throughout the summer leading into her senior year in order to gather more data on a full time basis – a process she continued throughout the academic year. 

“I am very proud of Jordyn and her research,” says Dr. Helen Holmlund. “Fern gametophytes are difficult to work with, but Jordyn rose to the challenge and made a significant contribution to our knowledge of their survival strategies. I am so excited to see what the future has in store for her.”

Looking forward, Regier hopes to capitalize on the momentum this research project has created and earn either a master’s or doctoral degree in ecology.