The Plant Science Center Laboratories

Equipped for Research and Education

The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center provides sophisticated laboratories for research in a wide array of plant science disciplines, and teaching facilities critical to the Garden’s efforts to train the next generation of plant scientists. Within the Plant Science Center’s labs, more than 200 Ph.D. scientists, research associates, adjunct scientists, and college students are making vital discoveries about plant survival, habitat destruction, and restoration.

PHOTO: GPS equipmentEquipment

Research at the Plant Science Center depends not only on the expertise of scientists, but on the variety and precision of the lab equipment they use. A fluorescent microscope enables scientists to measure the ability of pollen grains to sire seeds; geographic information system (GIS) equipment allows them to discover important plant relationships, patterns, and trends. Environmental chambers permit plant experiments requiring very specific environmental conditions and careful monitoring, while an automated analyzer helps scientists study nutrients in soil and water. Scientists use a DNA sequencer and centrifuge to research plant genetics, while specialized microscopes— dissecting microscopes and stereomicroscopes—help them assess plant chemistry and growth. Other specialized equipment is for drying, preparing, cooling, and packaging seeds for the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank, and preparing “voucher” specimens for the Garden’s herbarium.

PHOTO: training in the fieldDegrees and Internships

The Plant Science Center serves as home to a unique new doctoral program in plant biology and conservation, offered in partnership by the Garden and Northwestern University (NU). The doctorate program provides a foundation in plant ecology, evolution, and biology, and in applied plant conservation theory and methods. A master’s program in plant conservation and biology is offered as well. The Garden and NU also host a 10-week summer research experience for undergraduates in plant biology and conservation. In another partnership—this one with the federal Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service—the Garden offers a conservation and land management internship, a mentoring program that trains and employs science graduates to assist land managers with preserving and protecting public lands.