Biodiversity in Arts Grant - Archived

The Biodiversity in Arts Grant Program has been replaced.
Visit the Novel Outreach & Education Grants page​​​​​​ for more information. 

Past Recipients of the Biodivesity in Arts Grant

2018 Grant Recipients

Linking Indigenous Culture with the Rangeland Resource on the Wind River Reservation

2018-04-06_14-57-37.pngColleen Friday

Master's Student, Ecosystem Science & Management Department, University of Wyoming

Adrienne Vetter

MFA - Artist

Project Summary:

There is growing acknowledgement in the Western scientific community of the importance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) -- which is the knowledge indigenous people have collected over hundreds or thousands of years by living in a specific location and developing relationships between plants, animals, natural phenomena and landscapes.

This plant inventory project weaves together the scientific knowledge and TEK of rangeland plants in the Wind River Mountain range of Wyoming.  Colleen Friday is an enrolled Northern Arapaho tribal member working on her Master's project in Rangeland Ecology & Watershed Management.  She will be conducting a second field season of inventorying plants in the Saint Lawrence and Paradise basins west of Fort Washakie, Wyoming and talking with members of the tribal community about plant names and uses. Adrienne Vetter, the artist collaborator on the project, will be documenting the plants as well as the events, actions, and everyday life in the summer research camp with photos, video, and audio.  

The project’s goals are to update a plant inventory and collect vegetation monitoring data to help inform range management decisions.  But an equally important part of it is to provide a culturally-relevant field guide, multimedia storytelling, and visual art pieces that we want to share with students and community members on the Wind River Reservation.

View images from this project on the project Instagram

2016 Grant Recipients

An Ecological Storybook: Writing/Illustrating the Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare

Bethann.jpgBethann Merkle

Graduate student

Creative Writing Program

This project explores the role stories and art play in shaping public perspectives of ecology topics. I will conduct research and interviews in/about three places where tortoises and hares actually co-exist (Arizona, France, Kenya), in order to develop "An Ecological Storybook: Writing/Illustrating the Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare." I want to tell this story, in large part, because of several recent studies. First, researchers have found books featuring talking animals skew readers' understandings of basic biological principles and lead to children explaining wild animal behavior in terms of human motives and emotions. Second, the Pew Institute reports people don't understand how ecosystems work, but they want to. I intend to address these issues by capitalizing on Aesop's well-known fable. I will conduct background research necessary to rewrite and illustrate the fable, so it can serve as a portal for engaging readers with the ecological facts of global tortoise and hare biodiversity and conservation issues.

To learn more about this project and all of its funders, click here. For Bethann's most recent update, click here.

Wearing Wyoming: Microscopic Perspectives

 irick2.jpgErin Irickirick1.jpg

      Assistant Professor

Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Many Wyomingites, while aware of beautiful landscapes around the state, are not aware of the various vegetation and natural elements that are native to this land. This includes the plants, trees, flowers, soil and rocks that call this state home. The purpose of this project is to bring awareness to these natural elements and express them in a unique way. Specimens of these elements will be obtained and microscopic images taken. The images will be used to develop digital textile prints and will be printed on various types of natural fabrics using a digital textile printer. The fabrics will then be used to construct an original, cohesive collection of eight garments. Not only will the textile prints be representative of Wyoming, but the rich heritage of the state will be the inspiration for the style and design of the eight wearable garments.


Spider Biodiversity! Interconnectedness, Innovation & Stewardship

Harold Bergman
Professor. Department of Zoology and Physiology

Sarah Kariko
arachnologist & artist, Research Director, Gossamer Labs LLC

Jane Lavino
National Museum of Wildlife Art

2015 Grant Recipients

The Innovation Engine: A study of innovation in natural evolution on computer

Jeff Clune
Assistant Professor

Computer Science Department
My project aims to communicate that we must protect  complex, interconnected ecosystems because they are critical breeding grounds for generating complex, interesting, and diverse wildlife. We also aim to create an appreciation for the fascinating processes that have created the diversity on our planet.


Continuum of life: Fossils to living plants

Ellen Curranowilliams2_red.jpg
Assistant Professor, Departments of Botany and Geology & Geophysics, Program in Ecology

Cynthia Weinig
Professor, Departments of Botany and Molecular Biology, Program in Ecology

Meredith Pratt
Williams Conservatory Manager, Department of Botany

Laura Vietti
UW Geological Museum and Collections Manager

René Williams

Our intention is to demonstrate links among past, present and future biodiversity in Wyoming with innovative exhibits that use plant and insect fossils from Ellen’s research and the Geological Museum, resources from the Berry Center, and living plants of the Conservatory. The fossil record of terrestrial ecosystems preserved in Wyoming is nearly unparalleled, a fact that few in Wyoming know or appreciate. By introducing the public to the fossil plants of Wyoming, we can emphasize the theme of changing biodiversity over long time scales. For example, fifty million years ago, lush and highly diverse forests covered parts of the state that are now sagebrush deserts (Bighorn and Wind River Basins). Related plant species from those time periods can still be seen in live form in the Williams Conservatory.

In more recent history, plant species have been selected over time and domesticated by humans for agricultural purposes. The diversity in those species and varieties has been maintained by seed savers throughout the world over many generations. Being able to see, touch, and taste the plants that are a product of preserved biodiversity can highlight everyday applications for visitors and students alike.

See more about this project at

2014 Grant Recipients

The Micro/Macroscopic Life of Plants: An Exploration of Art from a Scientific Perspective

download.pngRobert Baker
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Department of Botany
University of Wyoming 

Marcus Brock
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Department of Botany
University of Wyoming

"The fundamental goal of our research is to understand biodiversity. One underlying theme that connects our research projects is that we both attempt to understand how the variation in genomic/genetic blueprints is translated into plant form: the morphological or anatomical variation in plants.

As scientists, in our own work and when we train undergraduates, we stress the deep connections between science and art. And, we teach our undergraduates that if they are doing science well, it should be an art form. In addition to the shared quest for understanding and truth in science and art, the scientific process often requires exquisite attention to detail and, to a certain degree, craftsmanship. These techniques are best approached with the same care, deliberateness, and creativity that an artist approaches a composition."

Rob and Marc will be presenting a variety of images and installations that explore biological variation and aesthetic appeal of the plant kingdom, sometimes quite literally through the lens of scientific discovery, in the Berry Center lobby, October 15 through November, 2015.

Mountain Lions In My Studio: An Exploration of Wyoming’s Large Mammals through Camera Trapping

13670187194_535d6beb96_m.jpgBailey Russel
Associate APL, Visual Arts Department
University of Wyoming 

Jonny Armstrong
David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow and Post Doctoral Student, Department of Zoology and Physiology
University of Wyoming  

"How do you make a studio portrait of a cougar in the wild? How do you bring fashion lighting, staged settings and the intimacy of sitting four feet away from your model and having them help create the image, when your subject is a wild, 140 lb mountain lion who views you at best as an annoyance and at worst as dinner? The answer to this is extreme camera trapping.

Working with high end digital cameras, wide angle lenses, flashes and backdrops our goal in this project is to create a studio environment in the wild into which we hope to convince animals to enter and take their own pictures using motion sensor triggers. The goal of these images is to bridge the gap between the viewer and the wild, to bring the animals right into our domestic world and to show them up close and intimately."

2013 Grant Recipients

Visualizing The Life Zones of Wyoming’s Red Desert Region

jones.jpgDavid Jones, MFA
Assistant APRS Art Department
The University of Wyoming 

Patrick Kikut, MFA
Assistant APL Art Department
The University of Wyoming 


"As visual artists, we have been mutually influenced by the landscape of the American West since we have known each other in our professional careers. More often than not, the natural and anthropogenic landscapes of the West have surfaced in the sculptural dioramas/installations (Jones) and paintings (Kikut) of the past few years. Because of our mutual interest in the landscapes of the region, we have often shown our work together throughout the region, participated in artist in residencies together such as the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) in Wendover, UT, and have had a great dialogue about the influences of our surroundings at “studio night” dinners over the years."