Ark. (March 18, 2022)—New research now shows that urban environments are
altering the way life evolves—and a Hendrix College faculty member, retired
faculty member, and four recent alumni participated in the project.
Professor of Biology Dr. Adam Schneider, Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Joyce
Hardin, Sierra Hubbard ’20, Savannah Draud ’19, Tristian Wiles ’21, and Caralee
Shepard ’20 are listed as co-authors of a report appearing in the journal Science, detailing the findings of a
study that revealed the clearest evidence yet that human activity influences the
evolution of plant life in cities worldwide.
evolution study, led by evolutionary biologists at the University of Toronto
Mississauga, found evidence of parallel evolution in the white clover plant
across multiple locations around the world. The study analyzed data from 160
cities and nearby rural areas in 26 countries.
at Hendrix, the research group of six took part in gathering samples of white
clover and recording their data through the Global
Urban Evolution Project (GLUE).
and Hardin recruited the four students to collect samples from Little Rock,
Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. The study found that clover evolution in
urban areas worldwide had more in common than they did with the changes in rural
habitats nearby those cities. For example, clover in downtown Memphis would
have more in common with clover in downtown Toronto than it would with clover
just a few miles away in rural eastern Arkansas.
took the lead on designing transects, collecting samples, conducting the
assays, and presenting our team’s results at local research meetings, while
forwarding phenotype data and leaf samples for genotyping to the Lead Team,”
students brought their own individual interests to the study.
fascinated by questions related to how humankind has and continues to impact
the evolution of life on earth,” Draud said. “I could see how scientists can
use smaller study systems to chip away at answers to larger and more complex
questions in Biology. Working with other students with varying scientific
interests, as well as with an experienced researcher, helped me learn more
about how to approach scientific questions from many different angles.”
this research experience as an undergraduate and learning about the publication
process helped prepare me for a successful graduate career in plant ecology and
evolution,” said Hubbard, now in graduate school at Oklahoma State University.
four of the Hendrix students who contributed to GLUE are now in Ph.D. programs,
in diverse subjects including cell biology, systematics, plant-fungi
interactions, and the urban ecology of native bee communities,” Schneider said.
“And the data they gathered as undergraduates will be studied for years to
come, to better understand how life is evolving in response to human-engineered
is now in the process of recruiting another cohort of students to participate
in one of the follow-up studies that have been dubbed GLUE 2.0.
private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently
earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions,
and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change
the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor,
innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college
guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with
the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.