Steven Matzner, Ph.D.
- Associate Professor, Biology
- Augustana University
- Postdoctoral Associate, Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
- Ph.D., Ecology, University of California, Davis
- B.A., Biology, Augustana College
Current Research: With the threat of climate change and increasing demands for water resources, understanding how plants respond to water stress is important both for agricultural as well as natural ecosystems. I have 25 years of experience working on drought-related topics and my lab has focused on the mechanisms by which plants cope with water stress. Currently, I am collaborating with Dr. Carrie Olson-Manning and looking at floral morphology and water related traits of common and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa and Asclepias syriaca). A. syriaca is native to eastern South Dakota and A. speciosa western South Dakota. South Dakota experiences a strong moisture gradient, with the east receiving >66 cm precipitation/year and the west <43 cm. We hypothesize that water-related traits play a role in the observed distribution of these species. We have measured transpiration rates, stomatal density, stomatal length and trichome density and found distinct differences between the two species. These differences may suggest a mechanism important in explaining their distribution. I have mentored over 30 undergraduate researchers and they have given over 35 presentations at local, regional and national research meetings. The expertise in both plant drought tolerance, bioinformatics, and molecular techniques of Dr. Matzner and Dr. Olson-Manning along with our strong record in undergraduate mentoring combine to make this project an excellent learning experience for undergraduate researchers as well as a productive and exciting scientific endeavor.
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