From Plant Press, Vol. 19, No. 2, April 2016.
Gabriel Arellano recently joined the CTFS-ForestGEO group at the Smithsonian Institution as a post-doctoral fellow. The goal of his research project is to develop an improved understanding of the patterns and causes of tree mortality in tropical forests, based on analyses of existing CTFS-ForestGEO data and new field observations on tree mortality. The study aims to improve a new generation of Earth System Models that are being developed under the joint project "Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment for the Tropics." This collaborative effort will reduce model uncertainty associated with projecting the response of tropical forest ecosystems to global change. Arellano completed his Ph.D. in tropical forest community ecology from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in 2013. His dissertation addressed floristic composition, beta-diversity, rarity/commonness, and community assembly in both Amazonian and Andean forests of the Madidi region, Bolivia. In 2014 he held a post-doctoral position at UAM where he developed a dominance-based framework for the analysis of species-rich communities, and conducted research on phylogenetic, functional, and taxonomic patterns of diversity along elevational and latitudinal gradients of the Andean flora.
Four “Reflora” students from Brazil are visiting the Department of Botany for the next year. The students are here as part of a project to repatriate information on Brazilian herbarium specimens held in herbaria throughout the world. Over the next year they will be digitizing pertinent specimens in the U.S. National Herbarium and spend time studying different angiosperm groups for their doctoral degrees. The students and their interests are Herison Medeiros (Sapindaceae), Marco Pellegrini (Commelinaceae), Tiago Silva (Orchidaceae), and Valéria Sampaio (Solanaceae). Pedro Acevedo and Mark Strong are serving as the principal departmental contacts for these students.
Core Collections Management (CCM) was lucky to have Sara Pineda, a biology student from the Universidade Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), return for two weeks during her winter break, in January 2016, to work on a few collection projects. Pineda was here last summer gaining experience in the collection by helping CCM to organize lichens and work on a few special plant mounting projects. Over her winter break, Pineda and Meghann Toner shifted 182 cases. She also filed newly mounted grasses in the permanent collection.
George Wang is a post-doctoral fellow conducting molecular work in the lab of John Kress. Wang first joined the Smithsonian in May 2014 as an Mpala post-doctoral fellow. He is an insect community ecologist interested in plant-herbivore interactions and their effects on community patterns. Wang received his Ph.D. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and has conducted post-doctoral work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has been based at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya for 18 months where he worked with David Kenfack and Scott Miller (Entomology Department) in sampling insects associated with the perennial shrub Solanum campylacanthum. In early 2016, Wang brought his specimens back to the Smithsonian. Wang will be using DNA barcoding to identify the insect species in his collection. His study aims to better inventory the biodiversity of African insects and understand their interactions with plants.
Alain Touwaide and Emanuela Appetiti, after 14 years of fruitful collaboration, left the Smithsonian in April, together with their “Historia Plantarum” book collection and archives on history of botany and ethnobotany to pursue new research and educational opportunities.