Our 4th Seminar series - Tracing Trade: Crossing the border between taxonomy and forensics against illegal plant trade. We we were fortunate to have this co-hosted by KEW Gardens. The session was co-chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellow Yannick Woudstra and Prof. Olwen Grace. Talks were given by Plant.ID PhD fellows Mehrdad Jahanbanifard (Naturalis Biodiversity Center) and Maurizio Mascarello (Meise Botanic Garden). Our invited speakers were Siri Abihudi (Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology) and Carly Cowell (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
The third installment of our seminar series! This session was chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellow Physilia Chua (University of Copenhagen) with student talks by María Ariza (University of Oslo) and Marcel Polling (University of Oslo and Naturalis, Netherlands). Invited talks were given by Sandra Garcés Pastor (The Arctic University of Tromsø) and Tyler Kartzinel (Brown University). Our next session will Thursday May 27, 15:00-17:00 CET: Tracing trade: Crossing the border between taxonomy and forensics against illegal plant trade (cohosted by KEW).
The second session of our Plant.ID seminar series Molecular identification of plants for science and society! This session was chaired by Plant.ID ESR Stephen Garrett. Talks were given by Plant.ID ESRs Anne-Sophie Quatela and Ntwai Moiloa, and invited speakers included David A Duchêne (Australian National University & University of Copenhagen), Tom Wells (Oxford University), and Robert Scotland (Oxford University). Thank you to everyone who presented and participated! Our next session, Proxy wars: Molecular tools for reconstructing diets and environments, will be held Thursday April 22 (Earth day!).
The first session of our Plant.ID seminar series! This session was chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellows Margret Veltman and Nataly Canales. Talks were given by Plant.ID PhD fellow Thibauld Michel (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh), and invited speakers Hernán Burbano (University College London), Jasmin Ramos Madrigal (Univ. of Copenhagen), and Vanessa Bieker (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Thank you to everyone who presented and participated in this first session! Our next session, Modern tools and old methods: Descriptive taxonomy and phylogeny, will be held Thursday March 25.
Marcel filmed a short video clip for the Instagram channel of the Dutch Broadcast Foundation (NOS Stories) on the hybrid exotic alder tree that is often planted in the Netherlands, but that flowers in December and January (much earlier than the native alder trees). In the first 14 hours there have already been 117,000 views!
Mehrdad and his colleagues and at Naturalis (including Plant.ID members Barbara Gravendeel and Frederic Lens) swrote an article for Nature Today on their recent ebony identification paper. In this popular scientific article, they explain how wood identification techniques can be used to combat illegal trade and protect endangered plant species. Great job to everyone involved in explaining the social significance of this work!
María together with her two colleagues two of her colleagues Eva and Mari at the Natural History Museum in Oslo have published an article in Titan on the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) that can be found in soil for the mapping of nature types in Norway. This is the first time that eDNA has been used for mapping habitat types on land, and represents a major development in our ability to efficiently (and economically) monitor habitats. Thank you to our colleague Bjarne for writing this outstanding article, as well as sharing it with the Miljødirektorat in Norway!
Ntwai, who is part of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, takes you to the Gothenburg Botanical Garden where he tells you about medicinal plants and how they are used by different people around the world.
Anne-Sophie has taken the initiative to recently start up her own taxonomy club at the University of Gothenburg, within the Physolychnis section. Their meetings have both practical and theoretical components related to the taxonomic identification of plant species, with lectures, quizzes, and walks through the herbarium. This is a fantastic initiative, and Anne-Sophie is looking to expand it to research groups interested in zoology and fungi, as well as further outreach opportunities with the general public.
Even during these current times with restrictions on travel and meetings, our Plant.ID ESRs are working hard to reach out to both the scientific community and public to explain and discuss their research. In this video, Yannick Woudstra explains his research at the weekly seminar KABaM! (Kew Advances in Botany and Mycology!) at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to a virtual audience of 140 people.
We've all seen posts in the media about the use of anti-malaria drugs to treat COVID-19. As scientists, it is our duty to be critical about this and to communicate clearly with the public. In this article, Kim Walker, Cassandra Quave, and Nataly Canales warn against the use of quinine or cinchona bark as there is no evidence to date that they exhibit activity against COVID-19.
On Thursday 27 February, Mehrdad presented his work on ebony wood identification to battle against illegal trade at the forestry department of WWF The Netherlands.
Ntwai visited Ramotshere High School in Dinokana, North-West Province, his former high school in South Africa. He talked to 11th grade students about choosing courses at university, career planning, and life beyond the classroom. As a bona fide motivational coach, he encouraged them to do well during exams and life in general. (pictures)
Like last year, Bastien participated in the Researcher's Night in Thessaloniki, Greece. It is becoming a regular thing but it is always good practice to talk about your research to a non-expert audience.
Bastien was one of the representatives of the Institute for Applied Biosciences (CERTH) during the Thessaloniki International Fair. He explained visitors what the function of the institute is, what kind of research is conducted, how they contribute to society, and how the institute collaborates with (inter)national partners.
Théo and Margret paid a visit to the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment where they presented the results of their work on the global trade in orchids based on CITES data. It was an excellent opportunity to close the gap between research and policy.
Stephen shows us that plants are pretty magnificent. Exotic and compelling stories come to life when exploring century-old plant collections. Stephen is studying the tiny plant Euphrasia, a fascinating hemiparasite found all over the globe. It is all part of exploring diversity and the natural world around us.
Nataly is passionated about gin and tonic but not only because it is a delicious drink. The compound that makes the drink bitter is quinine and it is found in the bark of the Cinchona tree, the national tree of Peru. Quinine is used to cure malaria and it has saved more lives in human history than any other remedy. Nataly's research is about the evolutionary history, the chemical diversity, and the biodiversity patterns of the Cinchona trees.