Science News

Negaunee Institute faculty, staff and collaborators publish papers describing their research in national and international scientific journals. They also publish technical reports and other products depending on the nature of the work. Our research and conservation work is promoted through news stories, blog posts, and other contributions that seek to explain the importance and impact of our work.

Scientist Travels to Antarctica

Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation Scientist and Northwestern University Adjunct Professor Krissa Skogen, Ph.D. will join 100 women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) to embark on a voyage to Antarctica this November, the largest such expedition in history. The Antarctic expedition is the culmination of a year-long global leadership training program for women in STEMM called Homeward Bound.

How do Plants Stay Connected in Fragmented Habitats?

New research by Garden scientists offers hope for plants growing in human-altered landscapes. The ability of organisms to move across a landscape is an important part of dealing with change. For example, this ability to move—or disperse—allows plants and animals to deal with human-altered land-use change, such as urban development, agriculture, and grazing. For plants, the ability to disperse from one habitat to another occurs via the movement of pollen and seeds, which involves the help of pollinators and seed dispersers.

Helping Gardeners Select the Best Nativars

Researchers at the Chicago Botanic Garden teamed up with experts nationwide to help home gardeners select the best native plant sources for their backyards. Many resources are available to help home gardeners decide which native plant species are right for their garden and goals. However, selecting the best source for those species can be challenging and often overwhelming. Gardeners often have many different sources or cultivars to select from at their local nursery, and not all are equal in their ability to survive and support wildlife in their yard.

First Southeast Asian Fungal Conservation Workshop

Garden scientist leads first South East Asian Fungal Conservation Workshop. This past summer, scientists from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, Belgium, and the United States met in Sarawak, Malaysia, to carry out the first conservation assessment of fungi (mushrooms) in Southeast Asia. Fungi are important for forest health and many are valuable as medicine and food for people. Losing unique species of fungi diminishes the health of natural ecosystems, especially forests.

Research Suggests National Science Conferences Can Improve Diversity Inclusion

A team of scientists led by Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University graduate students found that more than three-quarters of biology conferences do not have codes of conduct and the codes that do exist are insufficient in protecting historically marginalized groups. Conferences are beneficial for career advancement and networking, but can exacerbate inequities and power differentials based on racism and sexism, which harm historically marginalized groups.

Scientists Test New Restoration Approach

Scientists at the Chicago Botanic Garden are investigating a new approach to improve degraded landscapes for pollinators and other wildlife. In 2018, the Donnelley Foundation awarded $66,000 to investigate how well seed collected from native plants along roadsides and other tough habitats can germinate and persist in degraded, minimally-managed sites. Using these “native winners” could improve habitat and be a first step toward full-scale restoration.

Fossil Plant Research Helps Unravel Plant Evolution

Chicago Botanic Garden scientists received a grant from the National Science Foundation to collect and study fossil plants from Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China. The three-year grant to Patrick Herendeen, Ph.D., and Fabiany Herrera, Ph.D., funds an international team of scientists to investigate the diversity and evolution of plants 66 to 250 million years ago when ecosystems changed very rapidly.

Insects Evolve Based on Who and What They Eat

Scientists have discovered that what and how caterpillars eat has led to the evolution of new species. Plant-eating insects make up nearly 25 percent of all animals globally, but we know little about how this great diversity came to be. Historically, scientists have affiliated this diversity with insects eating foods of specific plants—think monarch caterpillars and milkweeds.

Scientists to Lead Biodiversity Conservation Workshop in Indonesia

Two Chicago Botanic Garden scientists received funding to organize a workshop promoting international collaborative research on biodiversity conservation in a global biodiversity hotspot. Nyree Zerega, Ph.D., and Jeremie Fant, Ph.D. received a grant from the National Science Foundation to convene a meeting of U.S. and Indonesian biodiversity scientists spanning expertise in organisms from coral reefs, fungi, microbes, insects, bats, and plants.

Rare Plant Program Trains Scientists in Southern Illinois

Plants of Concern, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s citizen science rare-plant monitoring program, made steps toward extending its boundaries to southern Illinois. Many rare plants occur in southern Illinois, and local communities want to assess the health of these plant populations. However, they currently lack a standardized method of large-scale monitoring of rare plants. Plants of Concern (POC) scientists traveled to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) in mid-May to train members of Dr. David Gibson’s lab in rare-plant monitoring techniques as part of a U.S.