The Charles B. Heiser Graduate Fellowship in Plant Evolution was established in 2002. It honors Distinguished Emeritus Professor Charles Heiser, who died on June 11, 2010. The fellowship was first awarded in 2009.
About Charles B. Heiser
Charles B. Heiser joined the IU faculty in 1947 and spent his entire career here. Heiser was a leading authority on sunflowers and a renowned ethnobotanist. His interests included natural hybridization and its evolutionary significance, as well as the origin of domesticated plants and agriculture. He was also an expert on naranjillas, gourds, chili peppers, and totora.
Heiser was a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1953. He served as president of the American Society for Plant Taxonomy, the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society for Economic Botany, and the Botanical Society of America.
2021 Heiser Fellow: Lana Bolin
Lana Bolin is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Associate Professor Jen Lau’s lab, where she studies how soil microbes influence adaptive plant responses to stress. Specifically, she is interested in how rapid changes to microbial communities may benefit plants in stressful environments, either through altering plant traits, altering the environment to make it less stressful, or influencing plant evolutionary responses to stress. She also applies her work to agricultural practices by studying whether irrigation may erode the ability of soil microbes to provide crop resilience under drought stress. With the funds from the Heiser fellowship, she plans to conduct a greenhouse experiment to understand why plants would evolve to rely on soil microbes to modulate their stress responses and how this beneficial relationship could be maintained. At IU, Lana also runs a summer research experience that she created for community college students, and she designed a course for transfer students that she is excited to teach next fall.