FIU Undergraduate Students Perform Botanical History Research

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

As part of our program on botanical history coordinated by FIU-Fairchild faculty Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega, initiatives involving FIU undergraduate students are being developed. Starting in 2016 a total of six undergraduate students have been engaged in this program. They have been performing archival studies focusing on contributions made by North American botanists. Between 2016 and 2019 three FIU alumni (Rose Adme, Beatrice Jean Francois, and Arielle Jean-Louis) undertook studies regarding plant exploration endeavors made by the founder of the Botanic Garden of Montreal, Brother Marie-Victorin, in the Antilles and the Canary Islands. This research was supported by the Latin American and Caribbean Center of FIU and resulted in three publications that also had FIU colleagues Liesl Picard and Nicolas Andre, and our director of collections Brett Jestrow as coauthors. In the last 9 months three new undergraduate students who are majoring in Biology have joined our team. Meily De Leon is a junior who is studying the Canary Island herbarium collections and field notes of Dr. Alice Carter Cook from the two trips that she made to these islands in the late 19th century. Dr. Carter Cook was the first American female to obtain a PhD in botany. The coming issue of the Garden's magazine (The Tropical Garden) has an article on Meily's findings. Maria Camas is a freshman enrolled in the Global Medallion program of FIU and she is investigating the plant hunting expedition that Dr. Fairchild made to the Lesser Antilles in 1932. She is also being supported by the Latin American and Caribbean Center of FIU. PhD candidate Nichole Tiernan from the FIU-Fairchild graduate program is also working with Maria in this project. Finally Raquel Chavarria is a senior who is developing a study of Dr. Fairchild first plant exploration to the Bahamas, also in 1932.

Photo below.- From left to right: Raquel Chevarria, Meily De Leon, and Maria Camas standing at the baobad tree planted by Dr. Fairchild when the Garden was opened in 1938. This particular specimen was collected in Gambia by Dr. Fairchild in 1927.