Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2014
Thomas Peters, a recent masters graduate in landscape architecture, has extensively researched three species of the genus Arundinaria, commonly known as rivercane. The only member of the bamboo family native to North America, rivercane once formed vast thickets, or canebrakes, across the southeastern floodplain, but development and agriculture have significantly impacted its habitat. These canebrakes support a variety of wildlife, including several endangered species, and the cane is an irreplaceable resource to American Indian Tribes that use it for traditional basketry and other cultural applications. Peters conducted field propagation trials in order to find ways of growing rivercane in a nursery setting, thereby safeguarding the future of sustainable canebrake restoration. He has found applications for his research on actual sites throughout the southeast, including several restoration plantings in Athens. He has also distributed rivercane to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina and the Cherokee National in northeastern Oklahoma.