Alicia Foxx PhD Student

Major adviser: Andrea Kramer, PhD

Research Interests: Plant coexistence, Intraspecific variation, Phenotypic plasticity, root biology, restoration ecology

Current Research

One of the central issues facing plant community restoration in the Western United States is how to select plant material for successful establishment of native plants.

Plant restoration in the west is plagued by several issues: drought that leads to mortality; habitat disturbance that harms native plants; and invasive species like cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) that are competitive, form dense lawns, and promote wild fires. 

Something that makes cheatgrass successful is its dense root system. Its roots can grow and extend at very low temperatures; and its fibrousness allows for a greater surface area to get water from the dry soil, and to win in competition against many native species. Being a good competitor is great in dry regions because plants compete primarily belowground – where the resources are most scarce. Competition is a strong barrier to establishment, and this negatively affects restoration outcomes. So, let’s flip this information onto native species; by expanding what we know about their root characteristics (or traits) and competitive ability, and how that impacts coexistence with other native species.

Seedling root system of Pascopyrum smithii Mycorrhizal infection of a stained Pascopyrum smithii root (B. Allen)

What also complicates factors is that plants can vary in their competitive ability and traits depending on where they were collected (population variation) and the conditions they experience (phenotypic plasticity).  This will also impact if a plant can coexist with neighboring native species. And I am exploring these ideas for my dissertation: How does population variation and plasticity impact competitive ability and coexistence between native species?

Pascopyrum smithii and Linum lewisii in competition

Publications:

Peer Reviewed
Hintz L., Eshleman M., Foxx A., Wood, T., and Kramer A. 2016. Population Differentiation in Early Life History Traits of Cleome lutea var. lutea in the Intermountain West. Western North American Naturalist 76 (1): 6-17.

Broad Audience Communication

60-Second Science: Plants’ roots helped them move onto land: http://my.chicagobotanic.org/science_conservation/60-second-science-plants-roots-helped-them-move-to-land/           

Technical Reports

Foxx, Alicia; Kramer, Andrea T. 2015. Propagation protocol for production of Propagules (seeds, cutings, poles, etc.) Cleome lutea Hook. Seeds Chicago Botanic Garden - Research Glencoe, Illinois. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2017/11/09). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

Native seed collection site, UT: Alicia Foxx, Lila Leatherman, Nora Talkington, Alex Seglias

Presentations:

2017

Oral Presentation. Competitive intensity among and between seedlings: what do the roots tell? National Native Seed Conference, Washington, D.C., USA.

2016

Poster Presentation. Impact of intraspecific variation in root traits of a perennial grass on competitive outcomes. Black Graduate Student Association Conference. Chicago IL, USA.

2015

Poster Presentation. Does number of lateral roots in Elymus elymoides populations vary and influence competitive outcomes with cheatgrass? National Native Seed Conference, Santa Fe, NM, USA.

2014

Oral Presentation. Intraspecific variation in Elymus elymoides root traits and its influence on competitive outcomes; Botanical Society of America Conference. Boise, ID, USA.

 

Oral Presentation. Variation in Intraspecific Root Traits of Elymus elymoides & Implications for water stress tolerance and competition; Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program. Rio Mesa, UT, USA.

2012

Poster Presentation. The Impact of Weed Competition - Preliminary Studies. Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area Symposium. Elmhurst, Illinois.

 

Mentoring:

2017

NSF REU mentor (Brooke Allen; North Central College)

 

College First program, Chicago Botanic Garden high school mentor (Giovanie Lanzo)

2016

Mentor Matching Engine. “Water pollution & plants” (Breanna Giametta)

 

Mentor Matching Engine. “Effect of ‘Mars’ Soil on Earth Crops” (Elise Miedlar)

2015

Lake Forest College mini-Internship (Siobhan Wojcik)

2014

NSF REU mentor, (Giselle Varrientos; University of Wisconsin, Platville)

 

NSF REU co-mentor, (Lisa Hintz; The Evergreen College)

 

Mentor to grade school student volunteer (Grace Guarraia)

2013

Lake Forest College mini-Internship (Osja Brinson)

 

Mentor to grade school student volunteer (Grace Guarraia)

2010-12

Math & Science Summer Academy, Elmhurst College  

 

Fellowships, grants, and awards:

2017

Plant Biology and Conservation Research Award

2016

Black Graduate Student Association’s 19th Annual Conference. Second place award for best poster

2014-19

Plant Biology and Conservation Fellowship

2014

Plant Biology and Conservation Travel Award

2013

Graduate Housing Assistant of the year award

 

Plant Biology and Conservation Research Award

2012-13

Robert D. Hevey and Constance M. Filling Fellowship

2012

Biology Chair’s Award; Elmhurst College

 

Outreach:

2016

STEAM “The importance of plant diversity” at Orrington Elementary

 

Stellar Girl Program research presentation and experiences as a scientist

2015

Y.O.U. Summer Science Club (Science in Society)

 

Science Club, Middle school student mentor (Science in Society)

 

Science Fair Judge at McCutcheon Elementary School

 

Invited speaker to high school students on college and graduate school at Elmhurst College

 

Invited outreach speaker to undergraduate students at Elmhurst College

2013

Invited outreach speaker to undergraduate students at Elmhurst College

 

Organization experience:

2017

Lead service project: Toiletry kit assembly for homeless LGBTQ+ youth; The Night Ministry

2016

Communicating Science Convention (ComSciCon) Organizing Committee

2015

Communicating Science Convention (ComSciCon) Organizing Committee; inaugural year.

2014

Lead service project: Plastic Bag collection for bed mats for the homeless; New Life for Old Bags

 

Volunteer service:

2017

Session moderator at the National Native Seed Conference; Washington, DC

2016

Invasive plant removal (Garlic mustard) on Northwestern Campus, Evanston, IL

 

Somme Woods volunteer restoration: tree cutting and burning, Northbrook, IL

2015

Seed cleaning volunteer, LaBagh Woods Forest Preserve, Cook County, IL