Through a proposed residency with the National Tropical Botanical Garden, McLaughlin plans to expand her research and conservation work from temperate to tropical ecosystems.
Hampshire College Assistant Professor of Plant Science Blair McLaughlin was recently awarded a Whiting Foundation grant to study tree conservation genetics and adaptation to climate change at the National Tropical Botanical Garden headquarters in Kauai, Hawaii.
Through a proposed three-week residency with the National Tropical Botanical Garden supported by the Whiting grant, McLaughlin plans to expand her research and conservation work from temperate to tropical ecosystems. Based on that research, McLaughlin anticipates improving her current introductory and advanced ecology courses, as they cover tropical ecology; developing a new 200-level campus-based course titled Island Ecology and Conservation; and laying the groundwork for a new 300-level co-taught field course with Associate Professor of Animal Behavior Laela Sayigh titled Field Experience in Marine and Terrestrial Tropical Ecology and Conservation.
"I'm very excited about working with the excellent botanists at the National Tropical Botanical Garden and developing opportunities for Hampshire students to explore tropical ecosystems—the most biodiverse places on the planet," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin’s research focuses on developing new approaches to biodiversity conservation in a changing climate. She works specifically on trees because they play a foundational role in many ecological communities and support a wide range of other species. McLaughlin often brings students to work as field assistants on her projects, uses real data sets from research in the classroom, and draws on her connections to ongoing conservation projects to help students better understand the complexities of conservation with climate change.