Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania

The Allison Cusick Student Research Award


The award is named in honor of Allison Cusick for his enthusiastic and steadfast support of botanical research and education in our region. Allison is a dedicated member of the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania, expert in the flora of the region, and former chief botanist of the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Founded in 1886, the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania (BSWP) is one of the oldest botanical organizations in the country. To continue this long history of botanical curiosity and education, BSWP is excited to support undergraduate student research on the flora of Western Pennsylvania.

Eligibility: Students enrolled in an undergraduate degree program or within one year of receiving an undergraduate degree. Either student or the student’s research mentor must be a member of the society. To become a member or to renew a membership, please visit

Scope: Research on any aspect of botany in Western Pennsylvania or immediate region. Projects may be broader in scale than Western Pennsylvania but must include at least one species found in the region. Any combination of field, greenhouse, lab, or herbarium work is supported.  

Amount: $1000 per award, but higher amounts may be considered based on need. 2-3 awards are expected to be given in 2024. Funds can be used in any way toward the proposed project, such as travel, equipment, supplies, or as a stipend.

Application Materials

1) a title page listing student’s name, school affiliation (including major and anticipated graduation date), and research advisor’s name and proposal title; 

2) a project description (max 2 pages), including summary of project, timeline of activities, itemized budget, and references cited;

3) one letter of recommendation from the student’s research advisor.

Student applicant and/or research mentor must be a BSWP member at the time of application

Awards will be made on a competitive basis with the applications reviewed by the Awards Committee. Should a member of the committee be the research advisor of an applicant, he/she will be excused as a reviewer for that proposal.

Awardees are expected to provide a paragraph summary of their project to be published in Wildflowers (BSWP biannual bulletin) and will be encouraged to present their research at a BSWP meeting featuring student awardees (likely in spring 2025).

All materials should be sent electronically to the BSWP Awards Committee at

Please include title page and project description in a single PDF. The letter of recommendation may be sent separately from the student’s materials.

The deadline is now April 12, 2024. We anticipate announcing awards shortly thereafter.

These students received this award in 2023!

Jacqueline Baker (Penn State University): "Documenting a new taxon Allium burdickii in western Pennsylvania: habitat and herbarium studies"

Megan Gauger (University of Pittsburgh): "Weather-induced flower closure in spring ephemeral forest wildflowers and its effect on pollen viability"

Christopher Perrone (University of Pittsburgh): "Determining the effects of a changing climate on phenology of a diecious Species: Lindera benzoin"

Gillian Revenis (Chatham University): "Are exclosures really doing any good? Exploring native plant regeneration and abundance in a severely invaded suburban fringe forest plagued by white-tailed deer and non-native plant invaders"

The 2022 Awardees

Jack Hatajik (University of Pittsburgh): "Mapping the population dynamics of the invasive Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) in response to climate"

Olivia Holley (Penn State Behrend): "Soil composition varies with presence of Celastrus orbiculatus"

Isiah Kratzner (West Virginia University): "Quantifying genetic diversity in a sensitive Appalachian herb, smooth rock skullcap (Scutellaria saxatilis: Lamiaceae)"

2022 Awardees Jack Hatajik (University of Pittsburgh) and Olivia Holley (Penn State Behrend) gave short presentations on their research at the May 8 meeting.

Awardee Jack Hatajik presented a poster on his BSWP-funded work at the Botany 22 Conference held in Anchorage, Alaska.