Honors Fellowships

Chris Tyson

Name: Chris Tyson
Title of Project:
The Effect of Anthropogenic Disturbance on the Spread of Shade-tolerant Exotic Plant Species
Advisor: Matthias Leu
Honors Department: Biology

My research explores the factors influencing exotic plant distribution, with special focus on species capable of surviving in heavily shaded environments. Such plants pose a substantial threat to areas (such as preserved areas) that we typically consider protected.

The Honors Fellowship will allow me to expand the research I began last summer to include a temporal component to my mapping of exotic plant species. After this field season, I will be able to compare the distribution of exotic plants in order to see changes in abundance and location. Support from the Honors Fellowship makes it possible to afford the cost of transportation to study sites, which can require several hours of driving to reach. Additionally, from the Honors fellowship, I may have the option to hire additional help, which would increase the number of field sites that I could sample and thus would increase the power of the experiment.

Hometown: Williamsburg, VA
Majors: Biology and Philosophy
Future Plans: Following graduation, I intend to pursue a Master’s degree and ultimately a PhD in some realm of ecology research. I am especially interested in the effects of human activities on the environment on a landscape and global scale. While my initial research interests have focused on exotic plants, I would like to expand to other types of exotics and their effects within an ecosystem.
Hobbies: I am a member of the College’s cross country and track teams. I focus on middle distance events where my current personal records are 1:53, 3:47 and 8:14 for the 800m, 1500m and 3000m, respectively.
Fun Fact: For the last year I have lived in the Netherlands with my girlfriend. We met in the spring semester of 2010 while she was an exchange student at William and Mary. During the following summer I decided to take time off from William and Mary in order to live with her and travel and take classes. It has been an excellent adventure, both personally and academically. I have experienced some enlightening differences in terms of urban organization and philosophy that I hope to take home with me.

Follow Chris’ research on the W&M Honors Fellowships blog!