student research grants

La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science

Student Research Grants

Each academic year, the La Kretz Center funds outstanding graduate student projects to help UCLA PhD students complete their conservation science research. The research projects that we support address important issues in basic environmental sciences and simultaneously fulfill our mission of working to preserve California’s biological and ecological diversity.


Evolution of floral scent variation in Linanthus

Awardee: Ioana Anghel, fourth year Ph.D. Candidate in the Zapata Lab. Ioana is interested in the drivers of diversification and how taxa maintain their phenotypic and genetic identity while co-existing in a small area with the potential to hybridize.

Monitoring of artificial reef restoration in Palos Verdes using eDNA

Awardee: Elijah Catalan, first year Ph.D. student at the Institute of Environment and Sustainability. Elijah's research intends to bring together genomic-based biodiversity monitoring, biogeochemistry, Indigenous tribal knowledge, and stewardship programs to understand the resilience of coastal and marine biodiversity to climate change and possibilities for adaptation on the West Coast.

environmental dna as a tool for assessing microbial diversity & ecological impacts by contaminants at the bowtie parcel brownfield site in southern california

Environmental DNA as a tool for assessing microbial diversity & ecological impacts by contaminants at The Bowtie parcel Brownfield site in Southern California

Awardee: Maura Palacios, Postdoctoral Scholar in the Wayne Lab. Maura's projects use eDNA to assess species assemblages in the Mojave Desert Springs, a threatened ecosystem and to explore microbial community changes in relation to hazardous materials at Brownfield sites throughout Southern California, for potential bioremediation practices.

quantifying the effects of soil microbes on california annual plant community dynamics

Quantifying the effects of soil microbes on California annual plant community dynamics

Awardee: Gaurav S. Kandlikar, PhD candidate and NSF Graduate Research fellow in Dr. Nathan Kraft’s plant community ecology group. Gaurav is deeply fascinated by the origins and consequences of diversity, and in his research he uses a combination of ecological theory, field experiments, and molecular techniques to study the ecological processes that help maintain plant species diversity, especially in southern California grasslands.

long-term urban adaptation in a nesting raptor community

Long-term urban adaptation in a nesting raptor community

Awardee: Daniel Cooper, PhD Student. Dan is investigating the urban bird community of the Los Angeles area, assessing changes over time using both early-historical records and data from the Los Angeles Breeding Bird Atlas, with a focus on nesting raptors and colonial waterbirds.