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Hendrix Faculty, Alumni Co-Author Paper on Global Urban Evolution Following Participation in Study Spanning 26 Countries

CONWAY, 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. 

Assistant 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. 

The urban 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. 

Here 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)

Schneider 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.

“The students 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,” Schneider said. 

The students brought their own individual interests to the study.

“I was 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.” 

“Having 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.

“All 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 landscapes.” 

Schneider 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.

About Hendrix College

A 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