Exploring the science of plants, from the field to the lab

Archive: October 2014

In the News: Dr. Ina Vandebroek Talks about Immigrants, Medicinal Plants, and Health Care

Posted in Interesting Plant Stories, Videos and Lectures on October 20, 2014 by Ina Vandebroek

Ina Vandebroek, Ph.D., is an ethnomedical research specialist at The New York Botanical Garden’s Institute of Economic Botany. One of her research interests is studying how immigrant populations in New York City use traditional plant-based remedies in their health care.

Dr. Ina Vandebroek
Dr. Ina Vandebroek

En Tu Comunidad is a public affairs program on the Spanish-language network Unimas that serves the New York City metropolitan area. The show is hosted by Enrique Teuteló.

Enrique invited me on the show to talk about my research in ethnomedicine—specifically, the use of medicinal plants in Latino and Caribbean communities in New York City, especially within the community from the Dominican Republic—and how this research can help physicians establish a better relationship with their Spanish-speaking patients.

Read on for a short English summary of our conversation, plus the full video of the interview in Spanish.

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In the News: Dr. Barbara Thiers on The Huffington Post

Posted in Interesting Plant Stories on October 7, 2014 by Stevenson Swanson

Stevenson Swanson is The New York Botanical Garden’s Science Media Manager.

Barbara Thiers, Vice President for Science Administration, Patricia K. Holmgren Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium
Barbara Thiers, Vice President for Science Administration, Patricia K. Holmgren Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium

One of the most important projects underway at The New York Botanical Garden is the ongoing effort to make the preserved plant specimens in the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium available online. That means more than just taking high-resolution digital images of the plants. It also entails entering all of the information about the specimens, such as where they were collected, when, and by whom, into a searchable database.

Of the 7.4 million specimens now in the Steere Herbarium—the largest in the Western Hemisphere and one of the four largest in the world—Botanical Garden science staff have already digitized more than 2.3 million of them.

Why is this a big deal? Well, as more specimens become available online at the Steere Herbarium and elsewhere, plant scientists and other researchers will be able to compile massive amounts of data about Earth’s plant life for the first time.

The Huffington Post has published a piece by Dr. Barbara Thiers, the Garden’s Vice President for Science Adminstration and the Patricia K. Holmgren Director of the Steere Herbarium, in which she talks about one very important use for this newly available data: gaining a better understanding of the potential impact of climate change on ecosystems.

You can read more about the Garden’s digitization project here.