New College of Florida Students to Receive Selby Gardens’ Research Prizes

Published on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 by David Gulliver

At noon on Thursday, April 20, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will present six New College of Florida students with the Gardens’ inaugural Calusa Prizes, which recognize students’ research work at the institution.

Each student will give a 10-minute presentation on their 2017 research project, conducted with the Gardens’ staff this year. The presentations are open to the public.

“The enthusiasm shown by the students and amount of work they completed impressed our professional staff,” said Bruce Holst, director of botany at Selby Gardens, who oversaw five of the students’ work. “I’m encouraged about how this partnership can bring the next generation into plant research, and how these students can add new ideas to the field.”

The students and their projects are:

  • Emily Bleske: Botanical illustration of a plant species being described for science.
  • Cassandra Detrio-Darby: Contributions to a field guide on the ferns of Belize
  • Elena Meyer: Field guide to the fern genus Elaphoglossum of Belize
  • Iliana Moore: Evaluation of a pathogenic fungus in the control of the Mexican bromeliad weevil; and establishment of an epiphyte phenology network.
  • Kaylynn Low: Evaluation of the potential of spread of exotic fruit trees into Florida ecosystems.
  • Julia Pope: Exhibit curation in the Museum of Botany and the Arts.

The Calusa Prize is part of a new collaboration between the Gardens and New College, giving students the opportunity to work with Selby Gardens professional staff on plant science, conservation and public outreach. It also included the establishment of the $25,000 Calusa Prize, which will be awarded annually by Selby Gardens via an anonymous donor to students in degree programs at New College.  The award supports the cost of the students’ research projects.

Eligible students must have a focus of study in the areas of horticulture or botany, public garden management, research, collection management, preservation, education, conservation or documentation, including art and photography.

Selby Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the research, study and conservation of epiphytes, or plants that grow on other plants without harming them, such as orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns. Per acre, Selby Gardens is the most species-rich botanical garden in North America, if not the world. Selby Gardens has the second largest spirit [or “liquid-preserved”] collection of flowering plants following only the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It also has the third largest collection of preserved bromeliad plants and the fourth largest collection of preserved orchid plants in the U.S. as part of its herbarium.