Research in the Botany Garden and Greenhouse is primarily for the faculty, staff, and students of the Botany Department. The topics of research conducted span far and wide across the entire discipline of botany. Below are brief profiles of all of the research projects held within the greenhouses currently and within the past 5 years.
Any questions can be directed to Dr. Ingrid Jordon-Thaden, Director of the Botany Garden and Greenhouse:
144 Birge Hall
430 Lincoln Dr
Madison, WI 53706
Researchers and their Projects
Yishai Barak, Pringle Lab
The mycorrhizal colonization of oak trees is being studied from a National Geographic funded project to investigate the efficacy of commercially available mycorrhizal inoculants. We are currently growing excess oak seedlings that can be used for local restoration projects.
Richard Barker, Gilroy Lab
Effects of gravity on plant growth in space is being investigated in various short and long-term projects. Richard is a Research Scientist in the Gilroy lab that probes various aspects of plant sensing while under the effects of low gravity, light, and orbit. He and his students use the greenhouse regularly for various projects.
Kate Barteau, Murphy Group
Screening plant species for plant derived tissue scaffold for stem cell growth is a current project using our permanent living collection. Dr. Barteau has been sampling leaf tissues from various species looking for anatomical features that can withstand the tissue clearing chemistry to be used for a scaffold for stem cell growth. Dr. Barteau is a post-doctorate in the Murphy Group: Bioinspired Materials Laboratory at the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research.
Jared Beck, Waller Lab
Examination of germination and seedling growth in Wisconsin forest herbs was done in the spring of 2019 by Jared Beck, PhD student of the Waller Lab. Beck is looking to understand the diversity of plant species and what drives that diversity. The seedlings investigated were collected in the wild, grown in our greenhouse, measured, and then planted around the area and in the Botany Garden.
Nepenthes systematics and pitcher microorganism ecology and evolution were the areas of focus for Dr. Bittleston when she was a graduate student in the Pringle Lab. We are holding her large Nepenthes (Asian pitcher plant) collection within our tropical greenhouse until she is able to move it to a permanent home.
Systematics of the orchids of the genus Vanilla is a long-term research topic of our Department Chair and Director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium, Dr. Ken Cameron. We maintain a handful of Vanilloideae specimens and other related orchids in our extensive orchid collection that are a product of his research. Over the years, his students have contributed to our collection as well.
Brandon Corder, Cameron Lab
Systematics and culture of bryophytes is an area of interest from his research at University of Florida before arriving recently to the Cameron Lab to study orchids. Brandon has assisted us with increasing our bryophyte collection in the greenhouse.
Alexa DiNicola, Sytsma Lab
Western botanist, Alexa DiNicola, is studying the systematics of Potentilla. She is a PhD student in the Sytsma Lab. Part of her live collections from the western states of Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming are growing in our greenhouse for observations of flowering, seeds, trichomes, and leaf morphology.
Nora Duncritts, Pringle Lab
Micro-organisms in oak, pine, and maple seedling growth is one of Nora’s projects during her PhD in the Pringle Lab. This National Geographic funded study looks to understand commercially available fungal inoculants for the establishment of forest trees. We have grown, and likely will at a later date, seedlings in our greenhouse.
Evan Eifler, Givnish Lab
Systematics of the South African Geissorhiza and its relatives is the focus of Evan Eifler’s PhD studies in the Givnish Lab. He has brought back living underground storage organs to grow in our living collection. As they grow, he observes morphological characters from the flowers and fruit that are often difficult to find in the field.
The Botany Greenhouse houses the extensive living collection of Oxalis from the research of Dr. Eve Emshwiller. This is the most extensive living collection of this genus currently known with specialization in those from the South American Andes mountains. The systematics of this genus is not fully determined and the Emshwiller lab hopes to solve this complex evolutionary puzzle.
Carnivorous plants and the monocots of the world are just two of many groups of collections housed in our greenhouse from the studies of Dr. Tom Givnish. He has been a continued and constant supporter of the living collection by adding specimens from his trips from all over the world to study the evolution of ecosystems, phylogeography, systematics, and plant traits. The aquatic collection, in conjunction with friend and colleague, John Glaeser, has also been developed over the years with Dr. Givnish’s advice and expertise.
The systematics of Baobab was the focus of Dr. Nisa Karimi’s dissertation research while in the Baum Lab. We are housing specimens from both her research as well as from David Baum’s collection in our greenhouses. The baobabs and relatives of them are growing in our two tropical houses, but wish they were back in Africa and Madagascar.
The evolution, distribution, and biodiversity of volatile compounds in plants is the focus of Dr. Ken Keefover-Ring. We are currently growing a a small population of Monarda species Dr. Keefover-Ring identified from Colorado that has a unique volatile signature for that taxon.
A recently NSF funded project investigating secondary metabolites of plants, specifically from the tyrosine biosynthetic pathway, is going to screen a large number of our plants from the living collection. Along with Dr. Maedea’s sampling research it will contribute to the building of our living collection database as well.
Grant Morton, Cameron Lab
Systematics of orchids is the focus of W. Grant Morton’s PhD research in the Cameron Lab. He maintains active at-home experiments of orchid culture and posts in a blog as well. We are grateful for Grant’s attention to our orchid collection as he has been helping us with the orchids.
Vânia Pankievicz, J-M Ane Lab
Nitrogen-fixating bacteria that are found within exudate from arial roots are being sampled in our living collection by Dr. Pankievicz, a post-doctorate researcher from the lab of Jean-Michel Ané.
Jeannine Richards is screening various specimens in our living collection for functional traits of interest to her research. Her research on tropical epiphytes in agro-ecology ecosystems focuses on inherited plant traits that provide secured functionality.
Jeff Rose, Sytsma Lab
Systematics of Polemoniaceae was the focus of Dr. Jeff Rose’s PhD research recently completed from the Sytsma Lab. He also contributed to the knowledge of the entire Ericales and the bryophytes of Wisconsin. Live specimens grown our collection during his research with the Department of Botany are now mostly planted in our Botany Garden.
Cara Streekstra, Sytsma Lab
Phlox systematics was the focus on Cara Streekstra’s masters research in the Sytsma Lab. We are growing live-collected specimens of Phlox divaricata from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio for her research on a possible speciation divergence of the taxon.
The Botany Greenhouse grew GMO cotton for drought tolerance in space for a Target funded project in the spring of 2019. The genetic lines for this project were grown to bulk seed. This seed was launched to the International Space Station. Along with growing drought tolerant plants in space, this project also investigates root growth in the absence of gravity.
The research of Dr. Ken Sytsma has led to many, many specimens in our living collection over the decades. His continued support and use of the collection for teaching and research goes above and beyond. Our collection would not be what it is today without his continued efforts. Currently, his NSF-funded grant is exploring the systematics and floral morphology of the genus Salvia (Lamiaceae). We currently have over 50 Salvia taxa growing in our greenhouse for this study.
Botanical wood anatomy and wood science brings Dr. Alex Wiedenhoeft to our living collection often looking for specific specimens for anatomical dissections. Our living collection has an extensive amount of woody plants from tropical regions, an area where Dr. Wiedenhoeft is an expert.
Uncarina systematics and the evolution of succulence and other xeric anatomical features were the subjects of Dr. John Zaborsky’s PhD research while in the Sytsma Lab. We maintain a small collection of Unicarina specimens from his research while he continues his taxonomic work in the Wisconsin State Herbarium.