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William Perez

is a fifth year student in the Plant Science subprogram of the Biology PhD program at the City University of New York. After graduating with a B.S. in Rural and Development Sociology at Cornell University, he moved to Durham, England where he studied horticulture for three years at Durham College of Agriculture and Horticulture. William worked in gardens throughout England and the US for twelve years before returning to school to pursue graduate studies in biology. He is currently at the New York Botanical Garden researching the freshwater green algal genus Tolypella, a member of the Characeae which is an evolutionarily important family because of its close relationship to land plants. Specifically, William's work includes morphological, cytological and molecular analyses to address species diversity in Tolypella, determine its relationship to other genera in Characeae and contribute to studies concerned with the early evolution of land plants.

As a first year GK-12 graduate teaching fellow, William will be working at Baruch College Campus High School where he will use his knowledge and experience of plants, including algae, to enhance modules developed by a former fellow that are focused on NYC plants and urban ecology. Most plant based classes or workshops focus on land plants. Algae are rarely discussed and students are more likely to associate them with polluted waters than with their importance in scientific research and to society. William hopes to expand students' knowledge and experience of photosynthetic organisms and to develop a heightened appreciation of algae and their fascinating diversity, their importance in the evolutionary history of plants, and their utility as a source of food and industrial products.