iDigBio Interns go to Botany Conference with UF Soltis Lab

Written by: Makenize Mabry

Salmon, Bears, and Moose oh my! While folks may not have seen all of Alaska’s ‘big five’, attendees of BOTANY 2022 in Anchorage Alaska certainly saw amazing talks and met some great researchers. iDigBio supported three undergraduates and one postdoctoral researcher to attend the annual conference which was finally back in person (with a virtual option) after two years of virtual meetings. This meeting was especially exciting for members of the Soltis lab as they finally got to meet Lyanna DeLeon and Karina Mendez in person for the first time! Lyanna and Karina are iDigBio Summer interns from last summer (2021) and have been working with Makenzie Mabry, Shelly Gaynor, Pam Soltis, and Doug Soltis for over a year on their project entitled, “Projected Distributional Shifts Due to Climate Change for Rhexia (Melastomataceae).”

They presented their research as a poster during the conference, which drew a large crowd. Karina had this to say about her experience, “Botany 2022 was an amazing experience where I met others and learned about their research. It was breathtaking to be in an environment where they were very welcoming and open-minded when my partner [Lyanna] and I explained our research. Botany 2022 was simply an honor for me to attend, and the takeaway was all the connections I made with amazing scientists.” Lyanna expressed similar sentiments, “I enjoyed attending Botany 2022 due to meeting others who were eager and willing to share their research and were very welcoming. I also enjoyed how everyone's research was unique and specific to their interests.” 

Tori Ford, who was also an iDigBio intern, shared that their favorite part of the conference was the talks in the “Black Botanical Legacy: Fostering a Community of Equity in Botanical Sciences” Symposium. Tori also presented their research on “The Projected Impact of Climate Change on the Wild Relatives of Eggplant (Solanum melongena)” and was co-advised by Makenzie, Doug, and Pam as well. Tori graduated last semester from UF and is pursuing internship opportunities with USDA. We know that they will be incredibly successful in their next endeavors! 

Makenzie, a postdoctoral researcher with iDigBio, expressed how “Botany feels like going home, it was so great to see friends and catch up.” She presented two talks, one on “Insights From a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience on Florida Plants and Climate Change” which used iDigBio data during the course and a second talk on “Crop Wild Relatives and the Role of Herbaria in Future Food Crop Security.” She is co-advised by Doug and Pam. Makenzie also noted that one of her favorite sessions was on “Paths forward: Engaging Indigenous science and knowledge”, an important topic for all natural history research. 

Along with Maria Beatriz de Souza Cortez, Shelly, Makenzie, Tori, Doug, and Pam also led a full day workshop on Using Digitized Herbarium Data in Research: Applications for Ecology, Phylogenetics, and Biogeography. Attendees were introduced to occurrence record downloading, data cleaning, georeferencing, niche modeling, and more! 

Photo captions: 
Pic 1: Drs. Pam and Doug Soltis with Karina Mendez and Lyanna DeLeon. 
Pic 2: Tori Ford with their poster on “The Projected Impact of Climate Change on the Wild Relatives of Eggplant (Solanum melongena)”
Pic 3: Makenzie Mabry, Tori Ford, and Shelly Gaynor visiting the Salmon swimming upstream.