Biology Department

Willyard Lab Research

Whats New?

CONWAY, Ark. (June 3, 2011) - Hendrix College student Kristen Finch posed with a moose near Coeur d’Alene Lake, Idaho the day before her close encounters - with a real moose and with a real bear - while collecting in the Kettle Falls range in nearby Washington state. 

CONWAY, Ark. (May 22, 2011) – Hendrix College student Jack Finney collected samples of ponderosa pine from some very unusual sites –  nestled amidst the redwood forests overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Santa Cruz, California.



CONWAY, Ark. (June 12, 2012) - Five Hendrix College students recently returned from an ambitious and successful collecting expedition, traveling 5,000 miles in two weeks as part of their summer undergraduate research.

The students include:

  • Adam Bigott '14
  • Payton Lea '12
  • Dakota Pouncey '15
  • Brian Schumacher '14
  • Kevin Spatz '14

Students were accompanied by Hendrix biology professor Dr. Ann Willyard and volunteer driver and photographer Gene Willyard.

The group collected samples from ponderosa pine in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Sites ranged from cacti covered rocky desert canyons on Navajo Nation lands to 8,000-ft. mountainsides, where the pines were nestled among the quaking aspen.

Big Pine Adventure 4

The remoteness of the sites required mostly tent camping, according to Dr. Willyard. A two-night stay in a historic lookout cabin that lacked running water and electricity seemed luxurious in comparison, especially when a light dusting of snow covered the surrounding Black Hills of South Dakota, she said.

Between collection sites, the group visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, walked across the Hoover Dam, explored the Las Vegas Strip, climbed rocks at Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park, tromped in the snow on the 10,759-ft. elevation Bald Mountain Pass, projected images of the annular eclipse onto a clipboard while camping in southern Utah, and toured the Crazy Horse Memorial.

 Big Pine Adventure 1   Big Pine Adventure 5

With the help of current student researcher Kristen Finch '13, the students are applying molecular techniques to their samples. Evidence from differences in DNA markers will be used to tease out patterns of how some unique pine populations have diverged over evolutionary time.

Funding for these students' individual projects stems from several sources:

  • Schumacher is supported by an Arkansas Department of Higher Education SURF fellowship.
  • Lea was awarded a Beta Beta Beta grant.
  • Bigott won an Arkansas Academy of Science research award.
  • Bigott, Lea, and Pouncey received partial stipends from an Odyssey faculty award to Dr. Willyard and summer housing from Hendrix.

All five students will travel to Columbus, Ohio in early July to present their results at the national Botany conference, with travel support provided by SURF and Odyssey.

 Big Pine Adventure 2 Big Pine Adventure 3


Older News:

Student researchers (aka ‘pine nuts’) from the Willyard lab collecting pines
near Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2010:

  • Kristen Finch, Brandon Linz, Nicole Segear, and Trang Nguyen

 2010 Research 1

 2010 Research 2

2010 Research 3

2010 Research 4