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K-State Today

December 15, 2020

Jesse Nippert awarded College of Arts and Sciences' 2020 Karen Ann Griffith Research Award

Submitted by College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences announces Jesse Nippert, professor of biology and principal investigator for the Konza Prairie LTER grant, as recipient of the 2020 Karen Ann Griffith Research Award. 

Nippert has developed a research infrastructure in South Africa with active research projects at Kruger National Park, Letaba Ranch — a private game reserve, and Wits Rural Facility — field site for the University of Witwatersrand. The research in South Africa focuses on identifying the factors that regulate competition for water among coexisting plant communities.

This research aims to quantify the strength of tree-grass competition across major tree and grass species, and to collect the data required to improve model predictions of future ecosystem responses. Nippert's lab has a current award from the National Science Foundation to support aspects of this research, but it is often difficult to acquire adequate funding for international travel.

"With the generous support of the Karen Ann Griffith Research Award, this funding will be used to support research endeavors by two fantastic doctoral students currently working in my lab — Emily Wedel and Rachel Keen," Nippert said. "Emily and Rachel began their doctorates s a year or so ago, and were setting up their experiments in South Africa when the pandemic began in March 2020. This award will provide travel and logistical support for these extraordinary scientists to continue their research on this dynamical and threatened ecosystem."

Nippert also leads the highly-interdisciplinary team for the Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research program. The NSF has awarded a $7.12 million grant renewal to Kansas State University's Konza Prairie Biological Station to support the next six years of long-term ecological research. The grant is the eighth consecutive NSF grant renewal for Konza Prairie and marks more than 40 years of the Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research program.