The President's Circle

Dear President's Circle Members

Keep Growing Fall 2011Two years ago, with the generous support of the Presidentís Circle, we celebrated the opening of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, a 38,000-square-foot facility with nine conservation science laboratories, a seed bank, an interactive visitor gallery, a 16,000-square-foot green roof garden, and the Womanís Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society Rainwater Glen.

We celebrated because we recognized the extraordinary research the new facility enabled; anticipated the new careers in science that its educational and training opportunities made possible; and understood that the knowledge the Plant Science Center offered visitors would enhance the Gardenís ability to fulfill its mission to promote the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of plants and the natural world.

We also celebrated because we recognized the crucial role the Plant Science Center would play in the Garden achieving a critical goal of its ten-year strategic plan. That is, to create a bigger impact on the world through science and education. The Plant Science Center immediately allowed us to offer a new and unique Ph.D. program in partnership with Northwestern University. In 2009, we accepted our first two Ph.D. candidates. Two years later we have seven Ph.D. candidates as well as 22 students in the masterís program, all pursuing graduate degrees in plant biology and conservation. These critical programs, along with many others, further establish the Garden as one of the best teaching botanic gardens in the world.

We continue to celebrate today. Because of the Plant Science Center and the many accomplishments of our scientists, the Garden is better able to fulfill its mission. And while two years is a relatively short amount of time, the Garden is increasing its impact on the world through science and education. In what I believe is a direct result of this progress, this month we are able to celebrate two new scientistsóboth Ph.D.sówho are joining our staff.

As I write this letter, Norm Wickett and Eric Lonsdorf are settling into their new offices in the Plant Science Center. Dr. Wickett uses genomics to address questions about plant evolution and ecology. His work on dramatic increases in genetic diversity millions of years ago was published in the May 5, 2011, issue of Nature, an internationally renowned science journal. Dr. Lonsdorf, a conservation biologist, directed urban wildlife projects at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We are pleased that he is continuing his important work in ecological modeling here at the Garden.

Please join me in welcoming Drs. Wickett and Lonsdorf to the Chicago Botanic Garden. And join me in thanking all of the Gardenís 25 brilliant and dedicated scientists, 17 of whom have a Ph.D. Not only are they helping plants and the natural world to keep growing, they are helping the Chicago Botanic Garden grow from great to legendary.

With appreciation,

Sophia Siskel
President & CEO
Chicago Botanic Garden