Archive for ‘Climate Change’

March 5, 2014

Follow the Fellows: Understanding American Ginseng with Jessi Turner

by Melissa Harding

ginesng 4

The Botany in Action Fellowship program at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens fosters the development of a next generation of plant-based scientists who are committed, first, to excellent research, and second, to educational outreach. Open to PhD students enrolled at US graduate institutions and conducting plant-based scientific field research, the BIA program provides Fellows with funding for use towards field research in the US or abroad and a trip to Phipps, to engage in science outreach training and opportunities to share his or her research to public audiences.

Current BIA Fellows are engaged in research in locales from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois to Nepal and India. Their work covers topics ranging from the role of green roofs in urban biodiversity and the influence of heavy metal soil pollution on plants and pollinators to identification of plants used by healers that protect brain cells from the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

March’s featured fellow is Jessica Turner. Jessica (Jessi) is a PhD student at West Virginia University, studying American ginseng, a medicinally and economically valuable native plant. Jessi is researching both the ginseng plant and the people who harvest it, with the goal of creating a plan that can benefit both. She wants to know if ginseng can grow in areas that were previously used for other purposes, such as mining and agriculture. She is also studying motivation for harvesting ginseng in the Appalachian population.  Medicinal plants are becoming increasingly rare; Jessi combines botany and social science to help save them.

Read an update on Jessi’s research and life as a scientist at the Botany in Action website!

You can follow Jessi and all of the BIA fellows as they study plants across the US and across the world at the Follow the Fellows section of our Botany In Action website.

The following Botany In Action update was written by Amanda Joy, Botany in Action Fellowship coordinator.

The photo was provided by Jessica Turner.

November 26, 2013

Fairchild Challenge at Phipps: Climate Change Public Service Announcements

by Melissa Harding

During the latest challenge of the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, students were asked to think about the impact of their individual and collective actions on climate change and to talk about their findings in the form of a video. Over 110 high school students participated in this challenge! Students created videos to inform their peers about the reality of climate change, while inspiring them to take responsive action. Each entry was less than one minute and done in the form of a public service announcement. The entries submitted were varied in their approach, but all were wonderful. It was hard for the judges,  Director of Education for the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Brady Lewis, filmmaker Mark Dixon, Director Research on Learning at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Mary Ann Steiner, and Interpretive Specialist for Phipps Adam Haas, to choose the winners!

1st Place: Gateway High School  “Paper Stop Animation”

2nd Place: Moon Area High School  “Mother Nature”

 3rd Place :  Shaler Area High School

Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy 

While each challenge has a winner, all participating students are winners for learning more about the world around them!
Thanks to all these wonderful students for submitting these great videos!

November 25, 2013

Innovations for America’s Electricity Grid: Talk with the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering Ambassadors

by Melissa Harding

Holiday lights and cell phones need it. So do digital music, movies, games, and toys. Electricity is essential to modern life – at home, at work and at play. But the electricity grid that keeps our world running smoothly is based on century-old technology that is increasingly ill suited to modern needs. Join us as two leading grid engineers talk about innovations being developed here in Pittsburgh to retool the grid for the 21st century.

Phipps Winter Lights - Paul g Weigman

WHO: National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering Science & Engineering Ambassadors

WHAT: Innovations for America’s Electricity Grid – An Informal Conversation. Join us for complimentary drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a conversation with leading Pittsburgh energy experts.

Panelists: Greg Reed and Emmanuel Taylor, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

WHEN: Friday, December 13, 2013, 6:00 PM

WHERE: Phipps Conservatory – Center for Sustainable Landscapes – Classroom & Atrium (1st Floor)

Free and open to the public. (Admission to the gardens not included.)

This event is part of the Science & Engineering Ambassadors program – an activity of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) – to connect opinion leaders with local experts, building relationships at the community level on the topic of energy. The NAS and NAE are private, non-profit societies of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the public good.

Space is limited; RSVP required.

RSVP or send inquiries to: Sam Taylor, Director, Science & Engineering Ambassadors,

NOTE: If you have questions about the electricity grid and our electricity supply that you would like to be addressed in this presentation, please email them in advance to

For additional background information, watch Greg and Emmanuel’s talk at TEDxPittsburgh.

The above photo was taken by Paul g. Weigman.

October 4, 2013

Wild and Scenic Film Festival Coming to Phipps October 16th!

by Melissa Harding


Allegheny Defense Project, in association with Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Heartwood, the Sierra Club, and 18 local and national co-sponsors, is proud to present the touring version of the Wild & Scenic® Film Festival, an evening of films designed to catalyze action and participation from local grassroots organizations. The evening’s program, “A Climate of Change,” collects 10 inspiring short films from leading environmental filmmakers who take viewers to Kenya, Asia, the Arctic, and across the U.S. for a wide-ranging overview of the effects of climate change.

Started in 2003 by the South Yuba River Citizens League to promote community-building within California’s Yuba Watershed, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival has evolved into an event series that tours the U.S. each year through the partnership of local, like-minded organizations and venues. The October 16 event will mark the Wild & Scenic Film Festival’s debut appearance in Pittsburgh! Please consider joining us for an evening of inspiring short films and a celebration of local efforts to combat climate change!

October 16, 6-10pm; doors open at 5:45pm.
The festival is free and open to the public. Seating is limited; early arrival is recommended.

Check out the main event page here.

The above poster is courtesy of the Allegheny Defense Project.


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