Archive for ‘Photography’

September 24, 2014

Save the Dates: Meet Botany in Action Research Fellows at Phipps this Month!

by Melissa Harding

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meet Phipps’ Botany in Action (BIA) Fellows and enjoy presentations about their adventures as global field scientists studying the relationships between people, plants, health and the planet at this special one-day event, free with Conservatory admission.

Members Only: Peek Behind the Petals
Saturday, Sept. 27:  9:30-10:15 a.m.
 The upcoming installment of Peek Behind the Petals will highlight the work of our Botany in Action Fellows, emerging scientists who are conducting plant-focused field research around the globe and sharing their findings with the public through educational outreach efforts.

Meet the Scientists
Saturday, Sept. 27:  1 – 2:30 p.m.
Tropical Forest Conservatory
BIA Fellows will be stationed throughout Tropical Forest India to display their research tools, answer your questions and offer intriguing details about the work of field scientists.

Visiting Botany in Action Fellows:

aurelie jacquet  Phipps Botany in Action science education researchAurélie de Rus Jacquet
Purdue University, Indiana
Geographic Focus: Nepal
Research Focus: Neuroprotective effects of Nepalese traditional medicine on Parkinson’s disease models

anna johnson  Phipps Botany in Action science education researchAnna Johnson
University of Maryland Baltimore County, Maryland
Geographic Focus: Maryland
Research Focus: Novel urban plant communities: causes and consequences of diversity

jessica turner  Phipps Botany in Action science education researchJessica Turner
West Virginia University, West Virginia
Geographic Focus: West Virginia
Research Focus: The root of sustainability: Understanding and implementing medicinal plant conservation strategies in the face of land-use change in Appalachia

cromulo_headshot2

Chelsie Romulo
George Mason University, Virginia
Geographic Focus: Peru
Research Focus: Working to conserve and sustainably manage the ecologically, culturally, and economically important palm tree Mauritia flexuosa (aguaje) in the Peruvian Amazon (Peru).

Murphy_headshot

Stephen J. Murphy
Ohio State University, Ohio
Geographic Focus: Pennsylvania
Research Focus: Forest landscape change in southwestern Pennsylvania

Read previous posts about BIA Fellows’ research and science outreach work here.

To follow the fellows as their adventures continue, visit phippsbotanyinaction.org.

The above photos were provided by Aurelie de Rus Jacquet, Anna Johnson, Stephen J. Murphy, Jessica Turner and Chelsie Romulo.

August 1, 2014

In with the Interns: Eight Interns, Six Weeks

by Melissa Harding

100_4619

In with the Interns is our new segment featuring the 2014 high school interns; this segment will explore what they do, learn and experience this summer. This week we will hear from the interns as they describe the most effecting part of their time at Phipps.

“My overall view of this program is it’s fantastic. I’ve learned so much. Who knew that learning could be so much fun? Getting to work with the horticulture staff was an honor; getting a full taste of what they do everyday was just mind-blowing to me. All of them taking the time to help and guide us through this program taught me so much about Phipps. This program gave me a hands-on experience that will forever be instilled within me. The icing on the cake was our workshops. Not only were they enjoyable, but they taught us about various different things that we can use outside of this program and that’s truly amazing. I want to thank Phipps for giving me this opportunity.”
– Alexis Smith

“The last six weeks have passed more quickly than I ever would have anticipated. Walking in on the first day was similar to the first day of a new grade. There were a couple of kids I knew, but most were strangers to me. The building itself was as intricate and aloof as always. Fast forward to July 30 and I now understand more about not only my fellow interns and the workings of the Conservatory, but also of the world around me. I learned more in the past six weeks here about plants, food, the environment, sustainability, and the calming effects of repetitive physical labor than I usually learn throughout an entire school year. I’m very thankful to have received this opportunity to spend time in this incredible atmosphere.”
– Ahmir Allen

“Wait!! Is this really our sixth week? I guess the saying that you don’t feel time go by when you are doing something you enjoy is really true. I’ve grown so much as a person and have significantly increased my knowledge of the world around me during the six weeks that I spent at Phipps. More than teaching me about plants and the environmental problems, this internship has shown me a deeper meaning of the value of work and achievement. It has also taught me that doing things you never thought you could do and, most importantly doing then well, as best as you can, is one of the most rewarding feelings there is. I will forever be grateful for my time spent here at Phipps and will not forget all the amazing people – horticulturalists, chefs, students, staff and volunteers – that I met here. ”
– Larissa Koumaka

“Over the past six weeks this program has taught me a lot. I learned how to cook and I learned a lot about the environment. I worked with horticulturalists, which was hard but pretty fun. I worked in every single room in the Conservatory, as well as outside. Let me tell you guys, none of the work was easy; it was all challenging, but I fought my way through and did it all. I look up to the horticulturalists because no matter how hard the job is, they never give up. Today was my last day of working with the horticulturalist, so I tried my hardest to do a great job. I’m going to miss this place and every single person I worked with.”
– Ephraim St. Cyr

“I don’t know there isn’t to say about this program. It’s honestly been an amazing experience. It never really set in that I was here and had this opportunity until now. It only happened now because I’m sitting here and writing this post and remembering all the exciting things I’ve done in the past six weeks. Nowhere else could have given me an experience like this, which is why Phipps will always be special to me. From my hands being covered in dirt to having them be completely clean to cook, these past 6 weeks have been phenomenal and I won’t forget them.”
– Dani Einbeth

“This experience at Phipps has been just wonderful and soooo exciting!! Meeting and working with the horticulture staff was one of my favorite components of the internship. The knowledge I have gained from this has made an imprint on my mind about what I could do as a horticulturist at Phipps. The laughs I have shared with my fellow high school interns will be permanently imprinted into my memories. I hope to participate in this internship next summer, so I can help lead new interns down the amazing path that I was able to take.”
– Aaron Sledge

“A previous intern had once told me this was one of the best experiences of her life. I hardly believed that would be the same for me, but after being here for two summers, I honestly feel the same way. Phipps has provided me with amazing opportunities and education as well as allowing me to meet all the great people that make Phipps what it really is.”
– Will Grimm

“Wow! This internship went by so fast, I cannot believe it is over already. I am so glad I got the amazing opportunity to be apart of Phipps this summer. I took on challenges every week here that I never imagined I’d be able to do. And my fear of worms is gone, thank gosh. During this internship I got to work with wonderful horticulture staff; taking on projects like planting, weeding, dead-heading, working with mums and orchids. It was a great experience. Thank to Kate and everyone else who made this possible.”
– Anna Steeley

Thanks to the interns for sharing their experiences with us all summer!

The above photos was taken by Kate Borger.

June 9, 2014

The Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Awards: Celebrating a Year of Hard Work

by Melissa Harding

hgphipps fairchild awards-31024-140527
At the beginning of the school year, the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps charged local middle and high school students with the task of using all of their art, music, writing and photography skills to reimagine the way they think about environmental science. The Challenge invites students to investigate and engage with some of the most controversial contemporary topics in environmental science and devise imaginative and effective responses. This multi-disciplinary, standards-based outreach program is designed to give students the opportunity to shine in their areas of interest; from singing a song to writing beautiful prose, every student has a talent that can be utilized in this program.

Seven challenges later and over 1,800 students have participated in at least one, many of them more than one. The number of total students engaged in the Challenge, meaning the total number of occasions for participation, is over 3,700. Not only did these students get the benefits of learning more about both themselves and how they relate to the natural world, but they also had the chance to compete for prize money. The five highest scoring middle and high school teams win not just pride, but a check to be used in their school’s environmental science program. Past winners have purchased green houses, started new science projects and taken innovative field trips.

On two separate nights, we honored these students with awards ceremonies. Participants recieved their individual and group awards and learned which schools won the monetary prizes. After the ceremony, all students and family members were invited down to the new CSL classroom for healthy refreshments and a chance to see all of the challenge entries submitted throughout the school year, as well as to check out the Biophilic Art exhibit featuring work from the high school entries. Both nights were lovely and festive occassions for students to bask in their accomplishments.

The Fairchild Challenge at Phipps 2013-14 winners are:

Middle School:
1st place ($1000): Shaler Area Middle School
2nd place ($500): Schaffer Elementary School 6th Grade
3rd place ($250): Carson Middle School, J.E. Harrison Middle School and Keystone Oaks Middle School

High School:
1st place ($1,000): Shaler Area High School
2nd place ($500): North Allegheny Senior High School and Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy
3rd place ($250): Hampton High School

While only five school from each category are able to collect the prize money, all of the students who participated are winners for learning new things, facing tough issues and creating innovative solutions. We celebrate all of our participating schools and students for their hard work!

The above photo was taken by Phipps staff and volunteers.

April 9, 2014

2014 Botany in Action Fellows Announced!

by Melissa Harding

DSC_3517-001

The 2014 Botany in Action Fellows have been selected!

The Botany in Action Fellowship program at Phipps fosters the development of the next generation of plant-based scientists who are committed both to excellent research and 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 with a broad range of public audiences.

Here are the 2014 Fellows; some are returning and some are brand new:

Jacquet head photoAURELIE JACQUET, Purdue University (IN).  Neuroprotective activities of Nepalese and Native American traditional medicines in Parkinson’s disease. (Nepal and United States). related symptoms. We overall documented more than 300 uses, but we need to spend more time with the Lumbee people to provide a more complete overview of their medicine. Because herbal medicine is sacred and secret among people of the tribe, information about these practices is only shared after a trust relationship is established between the healer and the researcher. Our central hypothesis is that the plants used in Nepalese and Native American traditional medicines have a high potential to alleviate neuron death and changes in brain cells associated with PD. We collected medicinal plants and are conducting controlled tests to determine the safety and therapeutic efficacy of the samples.
Our research contributes to meet the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal #1 “Eradicate poverty and hunger” through generation of knowledge capable of initiating new discussions in the field of public health policy, and the preservation of traditional practices.
Research Advisor: Jean-Christophe Rochet, Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Purdue University.

Learn more about Aurelie and her research here.

Johnson_HeadshotANNA JOHNSON, University of Maryland Baltimore County (MD), Biodiversity in the City: the Interactive Effects of Land-Use Legacies and Environmental Gradients on the Diversity of Fragmented Urban Plant Communities (MD). While most of the global human population lives in cities, our urban ecosystems remain one of the more understudied environments from the perspective of ecological science. We rely on the plants that grow in cities to provide services to the human population such as cooling and cleaning the air and making our neighborhoods more beautiful. We know relatively little, however, about what factors are most important for creating the patterns of urban plant diversity that we observe. This project explores how history of land-use in vacant lots affects the plants that grow there today and tests a restoration strategy for increasing urban plant diversity. I previously have conducted surveys of existing plant diversity in vacant lots in Baltimore, MD, USA. I found that in these vacant lots, there was more variation in plant diversity within areas that were remnant backyards than within the areas of the lots where buildings previously stood. I plan to expand these results to study whether the effects of different legacies of land-use on plant diversity change predictably over time, by collecting property records and reconstructing the history of when each house was abandoned and demolished. This will result in a description of what happens to abandoned urban land without human intervention. I will also collect data from a two-year long field experiment that experimentally increased the diversity of native wildflowers in “weedy” plant communities. I will use what is learned from this smaller experiment to guide a similar experimental restoration plan for entire vacant lots.
Research Advisor: Christopher M. Swan, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Geography & Environmental Systems University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Learn more about Anna and her research here.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKELLY KSIAZEK, Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden (IL). The influence of seed and pollen movement on the diversity of green roof plant populations(IL). The conversion of natural land to cities means that more plants and animals need to live alongside people. Special rooftop gardens, called green roofs, could include plant species that have lost their normal living spaces on the ground. If plants are able to live successfully on green roofs, they could provide resources like food and nesting materials to many insects and birds. However, green roofs, like other urban gardens, tend to be located far away from each other. Spaces between the roofs might not be good places for plants and animals to live, causing green roofs to act like isolated islands throughout a city. If plants on green roofs are not connected to other plant populations, inbreeding can occur between a few closely related individuals. Over time, this could mean that all individuals on a green roof were related and would share the same inability to respond to stressful situations like droughts.
However, if green roofs received seeds and pollen from other locations, the plants could have a greater ability to adapt to changes in the environment. To date, little is known about how green roof plant populations are connected with plants in other habitats throughout cities. My research will determine the characteristics of plants that allow them to get to new green roofs and will compare the movement of pollen on green roofs to a typical natural habitat. Results of this research will allow future green roofs to be designed to support diverse and resilient groups of plants.
Research Advisor: Krissa Skogen, PhD Conservation Scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University.

Learn more about Kelly and her research here.

Murphy_headshotSTEPHEN J MURPHY, The Ohio State University (OH). Forest landscape change in southwestern Pennsylvania (PA). A common misconception is that forests are static entities, remaining relatively unchanged through time unless subjected to a severe disturbance such as fire or logging. In reality, forests are constantly changing as certain species increase in abundance, others decrease, and yet others remain stable over time. Understanding this dynamic nature of forests is extremely important for predicting how they will look in the future, because changes in species composition can influence the types and values of services that these ecosystems provide. For example, the availability of suitable habitat for wildlife could be impacted, the types of nutrient input from litter could shift, or the types of timber that will be available for commercial purposes could change.
An existing series of forest plots established at Powdermill Nature Reserve offers a unique opportunity to study such changes in the forested landscape of southwestern Pennsylvania. I propose to resample a subset of these existing plots to determine how the number of species, the abundances of those species, and their overall sizes, has changed over a period of six years. Because significant changes in other forests throughout the eastern United States have been documented previously, I expect that the forests of southwestern Pennsylvania will also experience similar dynamism. Specifically, I expect to observe a decrease in drought-tolerant individuals, and an increase in moisture loving species. And because areas of the reserve are still recovering from past human land-use impacts, I expect to see an increase in the overall biomass of the forest.
Research Advisor: Liza S Comita, Assistant Professor, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University.

cromulo_headshot2CHELSIE ROMULO, George Mason University (VA). Working to conserve and sustainably manage the ecologically, culturally, and economically important palm tree Mauritia flexuosa (aguaje) in the Peruvian Amazon (Peru). The aguaje palm tree (Mauritia flexuosa) covers approximately 10% of the Peruvian Amazon. Its fruit supports many different animal species in the Amazon rainforest, including tapirs, primates, peccaries, birds, turtles and fish. The fruit of this tree is harvested from the wild and sold in the city of Iquitos, which is the largest city and commercial center of the Peruvian Amazon. The most common harvest method is cutting down the tree, even though alternative climbing methods are available. Despite the long-term benefits of using sustainable harvesting techniques, future paybacks can seem irrelevant to people who have difficulty meeting their daily survival needs. My dissertation research proposes to combine an evaluation of tree distribution with interviews of people along the market chain to better understand the current conservation challenges surrounding aguaje. I want to understand the motivation of people who harvest and sell the fruit of this palm and review how the distribution of the tree has changed over the past 25 years. The changes in tree distribution over time will be evaluated using satellite images from the NASA Landsat program, which go back to 1972. With a better understanding of the consequences of current harvest and the perspectives of the people involved in the market I will produce recommendations for the conservation and sustainable management of this threatened palm and the forest.
Research Advisor: Dr. Michael Gilmore, Assistant Professor of Life Sciences/Integrative Studies. New Century College, George Mason University.

 Turner_headshotJESSICA B. TURNER, West Virginia University (WV),  The Root of Sustainability: Understanding and implementing medicinal plant conservation strategies in the face of land-use change in Appalachia (WV). American ginseng is a valuable medicinal plant that is culturally important worldwide. Ginseng is harvested by people in Appalachia and sold on the international market. Through human activity, ginseng’s habitat is being reduced; much of this land-use change is due to surface mining. How land was used historically can influence how well a plant grows and reproduces. My research studies the relationship between ginseng and surface mining, both from the ecosystem and social science perspective: (1) Can ginseng, and another medicinal plant, goldenseal, grow just as well on land that was previously surface-mined, as compared to forests with other types of land-use history? Through this reintroduction study, I will understand, depending on how well these plants grow, if previously mined-lands are lost as potential medicinal plant habitat, or if people could grow medicinal plants on previously mined lands. (2) How do people in Appalachia view surface mining and ginseng conservation? Through surveys, I will learn if people in both the Appalachian and ginseng harvester communities prioritize the forest and practice conservation. I will also be able to assess if attitudes toward surface mining effects might be different if restoration of medicinal plants was possible. By researching how people think about ginseng and surface mining, I can develop environmental education based on the community’s perspective of ginseng conservation. Understanding the impacts of surface mining on the role of ginseng in the forests, as well as the culture in Appalachia, will provide a basis for how people can conserve medicinal plants. Research Advisor: James B. McGraw, PhD, Eberly Professor of Biology, West Virginia University.

Learn more about Jessica and her research here.

Please join us in welcoming these wonderful Fellows and their exciting research to the Botany in Action program!

The above photos are courtesy of the 2014 BIA Fellows.

March 10, 2014

High School Internship Opportunity: Horticulture, Sustainability and Service

by Melissa Harding

100_3404

“This program has changed my life, my views and the way I will grow up and become, all in the six weeks that I was at Phipps.”  – 2013 high school intern

Do you know any students that would make strong and eager candidates for an extraordinary summer learning experience?

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is now accepting applications from highly motivated high school students with an interest in the well-being of the planet to serve as summer interns in our paid internship program which will run from June 23th through July 31st. To be considered for this internship, students must be at least 16 years of age by June 24th and must be eligible for the free or reduced-cost school lunch program.

Our high school internship provides hands-on experience working with our science education and horticulture staff, along with classes, service projects, and field trips that expose students to a wide range of “green” concepts and career options.

More information and a Phipps employment application and a supplemental application form, along with a flyer suitable for posting can be downloaded from the Phipps website.

In addition to the two application forms, applicants are required to submit:
• A brief essay explaining their interest in the Phipps internship
• A letter of recommendation from an adult non-relative

Application materials are being accepted between February 1st – April 1st, and should be sent to:

Kate Borger, High School Program Coordinator
Phipps Conservatory
One Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Phipps’ mission is to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse.

To learn more, check out previous blog posts about last year’s internship here, here, and here and some pictures from it below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above pictures were taken by Phipps Science Education and Research staff.

January 24, 2014

Backyard Connections: Help Scientists by Joining The Great Backyard Bird Count

by Melissa Harding

Are you ready for some science? It’s been a whole month since the most recent citizen science challenge posted here and it’s time for another one! The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, is another chance to help scientists gain a better understanding of overall bird health around the world. Taking place February 14-17, 2014, the GBBC is an annual four-day event that asks bird lovers to create real-time “snapshots” of where birds are. Birders count the number of birds that they see in their backyard, area park, or local green space and submit this information to scientists, who combine it with data from the Christmas Bird Count and other sources to get a more complete picture of what is happening to bird populations.

Why have two bird counts so close together in time? Bird populations are dynamic and constantly in a state of flux. Birds are always moving from place to place in search of food and shelter, especially during the winter months. Scientists need citizen help because no single team of scientists could ever completely document the complex distribution and movement of so many birds. The longer and more frequently bird populations are documented, the more useful the data becomes, especially as scientists begin to assess trends over time. Having so much data also helps scientists to ask more difficult questions, such as why bird diseases affect different regions or why the phenology of migration patterns changes from year to year. Even better, the February GBBC used to only take place in the United States and Canada, but now that it is a global count, birds are counted in all seasons. This gives scientists even more useful data!

The GBBC is such a great program because it is accessible to everyone, even beginning birders and families. Anyone can participate for as little as 15 minutes or as long as each day of the event. It’s easy to get started – simply create a free GBBC account to submit your checklist. Once you have an account, tally the number of individual bird species that you see during the count period and then enter those numbers on the GBBC website. If you decide to count on multiple days or in multiple locations, just be sure to submit a separate checklist for each day and/or location. You can also send in photos of your backyard birds, the best of which will be posted on their website as part of a photo gallery.

To learn how to participate in the GBBC, visit the Cornell Lab website. Get comprehensive instructions here, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

New to bird watching, check out Cornell’s excellent resources for identifying difficult birds, using binoculars, and more!

Learn more about citizen science projects to do with your family on the blog!

The above video is used courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

January 20, 2014

High School Internship Opportunity: Horticulture, Sustainability and Service

by Melissa Harding

100_3404

“This program has changed my life, my views and the way I will grow up and become, all in the six weeks that I was at Phipps.”  – 2013 high school intern

Do you know any students that would make strong and eager candidates for an extraordinary summer learning experience?

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is now accepting applications from highly motivated high school students with an interest in the well-being of the planet to serve as summer interns in our paid internship program which will run from June 23th through July 31st. To be considered for this internship, students must be at least 16 years of age by June 24th and must be eligible for the free or reduced-cost school lunch program.

Our high school internship provides hands-on experience working with our science education and horticulture staff, along with classes, service projects, and field trips that expose students to a wide range of “green” concepts and career options.

More information and a Phipps employment application and a supplemental application form, along with a flyer suitable for posting can be downloaded from the Phipps website.

In addition to the two application forms, applicants are required to submit:
• A brief essay explaining their interest in the Phipps internship
• A letter of recommendation from an adult non-relative

Application materials are being accepted between February 1st – April 1st, and should be sent to:

Kate Borger, High School Program Coordinator
Phipps Conservatory
One Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Phipps’ mission is to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse.

To learn more, check out previous blog posts about last year’s internship here, here, and here and some pictures from it below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above pictures were taken by Phipps Science Education and Research staff.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 199 other followers

%d bloggers like this: