2016 Britton Gallery Talk Series

Intimate conversations with Garden scientists about a typical day of work include behind-the-scenes tours of Science facilities. Exclusive to Members.



The Plant Research Laboratory is the nexus of plant molecular research at NYBG.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Molecular Research at the Garden: Understanding How Plants Grow, Develop, Function, and Evolve

A Conversation with Garden Scientists Dennis Wm. Stevenson, Ph.D. and Barbara Ambrose, Ph.D.

Drs. Stevenson and Ambrose discuss the Garden’s plant molecular research and provide an overview of its several goals: understanding how plants grow, develop, and function at their most essential levels; contributing to the global scientific effort to assemble the evolutionary Tree of Life for all plants, living and extinct; and, on the applied side, developing the field of DNA barcoding, in which small, standardized fragments of DNA are used as a species identification tag. Following the Talk is a tour of the Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory to see some of the facilities and techniques used for undertaking plant molecular research.

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Space for this program is limited; reservations are required.

For reservations, please e-mail membership@nybg.org or call 718.817.8703.



Microcycas calocoma (Zamiaceae) is critically endangered and occurs only in Cuba. This is one of 10,000 Caribbean species whose conservation status is being assessed in the GIS Lab.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Identifying the Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Plants: Results from the Garden’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratory

A Conversation with Garden Scientists Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Kiernan

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) has identified as one of its targets to have conservation assessments for the world’s plant species to be completed by the year 2020. To date, only 5 percent of plant species have had conservation assessments to an accepted international standard (e.g., endangered, threatened, etc.). Dr. Boom and Ms. Kiernan discuss the Garden’s new, rapid protocol — based on data from herbarium specimens and analyses in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratory — and partnership with other institutions to help meet this goal for Caribbean region plants. Following the Talk is a visit to the GIS Laboratory for an overview of the new rapid protocol and the hands-on work involved in making a conservation assessment.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Space for this program is limited; reservations are required.

For reservations, please e-mail membership@nybg.org or call 718.817.8703.



The Vietnamese palm Livistona jenkinsiana.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Palms of Vietnam: A Doubling of Numbers

A Conversation with Garden Scientist Andrew J. Henderson, Ph.D.

Based on the most recent treatment of the palms of Vietnam done by French colonial botanists Gagnepain and Conrad in 1937, Garden scientist Dr. Andrew Henderson and his colleagues expected to find about 60 species of palms when they began their survey of Vietnam in 2007. In a stunning example of modern exploration and species discovery, however, a total of 25 palm genera and 105 species (33 of them new to science) have been found to occur there. Dr. Henderson discusses his 12 recent field expeditions to Vietnam and some of the possible reasons for the high level of new species discovery. Following the Talk is a visit to the Steere Herbarium to view some of the palm species newly discovered in Vietnam.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Space for this program is limited; reservations are required.

For reservations, please e-mail membership@nybg.org or call 718.817.8703.



Drought stress is a way of life for desert plants, but it can present severe challenges for plants that grow in more mesic habitats.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Stressed Out: Plant Responses to Global Climate Change

A Conversation with Garden Scientist Stephanie Schmiege, Ph.D. Student

Tropical forests are one of the planet’s largest terrestrial carbon sinks, yet little is known about the effect of climate change on the health of tropical trees. Garden scientist Stephanie Schmiege discusses the physiological response of trees to drought stress — what has been learned in the desert Southwest of the United States where it has been well studied, and her early work in the tropics of Vietnam. Following the Talk is a tour of the Garden’s Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory to explore some of the physiological and anatomical techniques used to study and understand plant stress.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Space for this program is limited; reservations are required.

For reservations, please e-mail membership@nybg.org or call 718.817.8703.



Cacti provide an excellent example of evolutionary problem solving.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Evolution and the Tree of Life: Problem-solving Through Time

A Conversation with Garden Scientists Dennis Wm. Stevenson, Ph.D., Barbara Ambrose, Ph.D., and Lawrence M. Kelly, Ph.D.

As Charles Darwin famously recognized, the evolution of living things has been occurring for billions of years and is responsible for the marvelous diversity of life on Earth. Drs. Stevenson, Ambrose, and Kelly discuss evolution as a problem-solving process resulting in change over time and explain the Botanical Garden's modern research on understanding plant portions of the evolutionary Tree of Life (family tree of living things). Following the talk is a tour of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to look at representative plants on the evolutionary tree and note some particular problem-solving that has occurred in Earth’s different biomes.

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Space for this program is limited; reservations are required.

For reservations, please e-mail membership@nybg.org or call 718.817.8703.