Paddon/Gellhorn Wilderness Research Grants

Since 1998, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance (IPWA)) has awarded graduate and undergraduate research grants with a focus on ecological impacts in alpine and sub-alpine environments. The research topic should provide a better understanding of the ecology of Colorado high country. 


These grants honor David Paddon and Joyce Gellhorn.

David Paddon was an English exchange student in the Geography Department at the University of Colorado who did research in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. He died in a weather-related climbing accident in the Indian Peaks in May 1990.

2019 Picnic Board Members with Grant Rec
2019 Picnic Board Members with Grant Rec

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2016 Research Grant Recipients with Dary
2016 Research Grant Recipients with Dary

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Photos of IPWA board members and grant recipients

Joyce Gellhorn was an IPWA volunteer, board member and a long-time chair of the IPWA’s scholarship committee. Joyce was a dedicated educator whose passion was the ecology of the Colorado high country, which she shared in her books: Song of the Alpine: The Rocky Mountain Tundra through the Seasons, White-Tailed Ptarmigan: Ghosts of the Alpine Tundra and Aspen Dreams: A Memoir. She held a Ph.D. in botany with a specialty in plant ecology, and taught classes for over twenty-five years to students ranging in age from four to eighty-four at the Boulder County Nature Association, University of Colorado’s Mountain Research Station, Boulder Valley Schools, Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Keystone Science School and Teton Science School.  Joyce passed away in 2012.

A big thank you to our Research Grant Committee members who manage the process, review applications and make recommendations: Daryl Ogden (Grant Committee Chair), Sallie Greenwood, Eric Durham, Yonah Cohen and Jessica Feld!



Three IPWA Paddon/Gelhorn Wilderness grants are available for up to $2,000 each. Applications are due by March 13th and awards will be announced by April 10th.



Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students attending any Colorado university and conducting research with a focus on issues affecting Colorado alpine and sub-alpine environments. The research topic should help provide a better understanding of the ecological environment and/or wise management of the Colorado high country. The grants will be awarded based on the quality and merit of the research proposal and on the recommendation of faculty advisors.


In October of the funding year, recipients must submit a three to five minute video (with audio) summarizing research results. Alternatives to the video can be discussed prior to awarding the grant.




Interested applicants should send the following materials to the attention of Daryl Ogden, Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance at

1)  A letter of application:


Indicate your name, local address, phone number, e-mail address, university, college department, current degree program, and the name, phone number, and e-mail of your faculty advisor.​​


2)  A research proposal:


State clearly and concisely, in no more than two pages, the research objectives, study area, overall experimental design, and the potential significance of findings. Tables and figures are discouraged. 


NOTE: It is essential that the grant request be written in a language understandable by the general public. Reviewers should not have to rely on explanations provided by faculty advisors to understand the concepts and goals contained in the grant application.


3)  A proposed budget:


Detail how you would spend the grant award.


4)  A letter of support from your faculty advisor.


We look forward to receiving your applications!

Previous Recipients and Area of Study

List of Previous Recipients


  • Airy Peralta (PhD Candidate, University of Colorado: Improving forecasting of pika occupancy in Rocky Mountain National Park using microclimatic variables as predictors (see video report)  

  •  Scott Nordstrom (PhD Candidate, University of Colorado): Do shading and soil moisture influence flowering time in alpine wildflowers? (see video report)



  • Kathryn Grabenstein (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Characterizing breeding dynamics of two Colorado songbirds as climate change indicators (see video report)

  • Laurel Brigham (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Do Microclimates And Plant-Plant Interactions Change The Nature Of Range Expansions? (see video report)

  • Molly Huber (PhD candidate, University of Colorado -Boulder): Temperature and moisture dependence of alpine wetland gas emissions and implications for future change. (see video report)

  • Heather Reineking (MS candidate, Western Colorado University): Alpine vegetation restoration of Ben Butler mine site in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.



  • Alexandra Alexiev (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Can symbiotic fungi from Boreal Toads inhibit the amphibian chytrid fungal pathogen? (see video report)

  • Laurel Brigham (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Do Microclimates And Plant-Plant Interactions Change The Nature Of Range Expansions? (see video report)

  • Chiara Forrester (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Plant Responses To Early Snowmelt And Warming Across A Complex Alpine Landscape (see video report)


  • Margaret Mitter-McCormick (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): A Vertical Mile of Stonecrop: Adaptive Genetic Variations with Elevation? (see video report

  • Isabel Schroeter (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Managing Riparian Plant Communities in the Rocky Mountains: Can an Understanding of Functional Water-Use Strategies Explain Browsing and Hydrological Feedbacks? (see video report)



  • Cliff Bueno De Mesquita (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Plant Colonization and Climate Change (see video report)

  • Nathalie Chardon (PhD candidate, University of Colorado - Boulder): Colorado Alpine, Plant Response to Trail Use (see video report)

  • Ashley Whipple: Pika Research (see video report)


  • Robert Andrus: Assessing See and Microsite Limitations to Upslope Migration of Subalpine Forest

  • Robert Franks: The Effects of Dust Storm Event on Bryophyte Species Richness and Abundance in Alpine Regions of Colorado

  • Kim Vincent: The Effects of Terrestrial Carbon Inputs on Lake Abundance and Diversity



  • Aidan Beers: Amerian Pika population

  • Amy Churchill: Response of alpine mead ecosystems to human-induced nitrogen deposits

  • Spencer Holtz: Effect of climate change of pika losses

  • Melinda Markin: Effect of climate change on endemic alpine plants in Colorado

  • Margaret McCormick: Yellow stonecrop herb gene variability

  • Teal Potter: Impact of exotic plant invasion on the Rocky Mountain alpine regions



  • Aidan Beers: Testing habitat use hypotheses for a habitat specialist, the American Pika Proposal

  • Amber Churchill: Alpine moist meadow response to regional gradients of nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains

  • Scott Ferrenberg: Understanding Causes and Consequences of Variable Tree Defenses across Space and Time


  • Aidan Beers: Winter mortality and territory use by American pikas

  • Scott Ferrenberg: Mountain pine beetle

  • Margaret Mitter: Stonecrop adaptation to elevation

  • Courtney Naff: Dust deposition, snow microbes, and nutrient export from Alpine ecosystems

  • Teal Potter: Alpine fungi-root relationships and nitrogen deposition

  • Jennifer Wilkening: Physiological stress impact on survival in American pikas



  • Jennifer Wilkening: Study of high alpine pikas.

  • Scott Ferrenberg: Mountain Pine Beetle.



  • Scott Ferrenberg: Mountain Pine Beetle.

  • Jennifer Wilkening: Study of high alpine pikas.



  • Scott Ferrenberg: Analysis on the increased production of the pine beetle.



  • Justine Smith: Analysis of Pika food sources in the Indian Peaks.



  • Se Jin Song: Mapping Limber Pine Mitochondrial DNA in the Indian Peaks Wilderness



  • Katherine Driscoll: A Population Genetic Analysis of Big Horn Sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park.



  • Jessica Metcalf: Conservation Genetics of the Federally Threatened Greenback Cutthroat Trout.



  • Renee Culver: Conservation genetics study of Thomomys talpoides (pocket gopher, one species of which lives in the Indian Peaks Wilderness)



  • Colorado Fourteeners Initiative: Supporting research on alpine restoration and revegetation above timberline.



  • Stacie Kageyama: Study of fungi on Niwot Ridge that help alpine plants access nutrients such as nitrogen and carbon                     

  • Eric DeChaine: Finishing 2001 project, funds for DNA analysis.


  • Eric DeChaine: The effect of long-term climate change on vegetation.



  • Whitney Johnson: Effects of recreational trails on habitat use by ground beetles and small mammals.


  • Mary Damm: Patterns of plant species diversity in the alpine tundra.

  • David Remucal: Environmental effects on the reproductive ecology of alplily.



  • Tara Forbis: Sexual reproduction and genetic structure in alpine plant communities.

  • David Oline: Diversity of Archaea along an elevational gradient in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.                      

  • Christopher Meloche: Carbohydrate partitioning and preformation in an alpine forb, alpine avens.