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*Last entry is an hour before closing

Alejandra Vasco studying the ferns of Colombia

Where in the World Is the Research Team in 2024? Look for Our Botanists in Madagascar, Madrid, Manila and Beyond

The Research program has a busy year planned involving international travel, conference presentations and new projects starting as ongoing projects wrap up–plus fascinating library exhibits here at home. Here’s a look what 2024 holds for our botanists.

Research travel to South Africa, Madagascar, Colombia and the Philippines

In November 2023, Morgan Gostel completed the first expedition of the NSF Vernoniae project to South Africa. He hopes to discuss his travels and findings in March as part of our Lunchtime Lecture Series–keep an eye out for details. Gostel is also scheduled to visit Madagascar in April and May for 3-4 weeks, and plans a third expedition to south and west Africa in the fall (dates and exact country TBD).

Alejandra Vasco will be leaving for Columbia this week for a two-week expedition as part of her Ferns of Columbia NSF project. She also plans a month-long expedition in March and another in November.

Peter Fritsch and Manuela Dal Forno will travel to the Philippines on the fifth and final expedition of NSF Philippines project in May/June of this year for 4-6 weeks. Closer to home, Fritsch will be wrapping up his NSF Blueberries project this year and expects to spend some time in the field in Florida (exact timing TBD).

Project milestones

The NSF Texas Oklahoma Regional Consortia of Herbaria (TORCH) TCN Digitization project, focused on the digitization of Texas and Oklahoma herbarium specimens and expects to achieve complete digitization of over 250,000 specimens by August 2025.

Imaging and transcription of the Herbarium’s specimens from Asia expects to be complete in August 2024. This project is part of the broader All Asia Thematic Collections Network (TCN) program, a cooperative effort of herbaria across the U.S. that seeks to digitize 15 million specimens of Asian plants currently housed in the US and around the world by 2025.

The USFW project focused on the status assessment of Eriocaulon koernickianum (small-headed pipewort) will be wrapping up this August. The field work was completed in 2023, and lab work is ongoing.

Conferences and Publications

The Garden is excited to host the World Flora Online Conference this year, an in-person, invitation-only gathering of botanists to discuss global strategies for plant conservation.

Several staff will be attending the 20th International Botanical Congress in Madrid in July. This global gathering of plant experts is held every six years

Multiple team members also plan to attend the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections Conference in Japan in September. This international organization is devoted to the preservation, conservation and management of natural history collections.

Library Exhibits

The BRIT Library plans an exhibit called “Pollination Pairings” opening on March 1 to coincide with Butterflies in the Garden this spring.

This will be followed by “Spice of Life,” an exhibit devoted to the history of spices set to open on June 3. Make sure to visit the second floor of the BRIT Building to see art, illustrations, herbarium samples and books from library centered around these fascinating themes.

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