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

Brian Boom

A New Era for Collaboration with Cuba

Posted in Interesting Plant Stories on October 25, 2017 by Science Talk

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is Vice President for Conservation Strategy and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at The New York Botanical Garden. Ina Vandebroek, Ph.D., is NYBG’s Matthew Calbraith Perry Assistant Curator of Economic Botany and Director of the Caribbean Program.


Photo of Long and Monterrey
Gregory Long, NYBG’s CEO and The William C. Steere Sr. President, and Nora Monterrey, General Director of Cuba’s National Botanical Garden. The two institutions recently signed a new Memorandum of Understanding.

The New York Botanical Garden and Cuba’s National Botanical Garden (Jardín Botánico Nacional, or JBN) have a history of collaboration that spans no less than five decades on numerous specific plant research and conservation initiatives. Science Talk has chronicled some of the more recent ones here, here, and here.

Earlier this month, Nora Monterrey, JBN’s General Director, and Alejandro Palmarola, Head of Conservation Program at JBN, visited NYBG to launch an exciting new era for collaboration between our two institutions. The discussions about this renewed commitment for collaboration began in Havana in July 2015, when one of us (Brian) went to Cuba to meet Nora as the new General Director of JBN and to discuss how our institutions could best join forces on cutting-edge science or conservation projects.

However, in a visionary move, Nora Monterrey proposed to take our collaboration to the next level. Instead of a specific agreement for a specific collaborative project, she envisioned establishing a wide-reaching umbrella agreement, spanning multiple years. This approach, which is laid out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), will promote all sorts of collaborative initiatives between our institutions–not only science and conservation but also other programmatic areas such as education, horticulture, and exhibitions, as well as support areas, such as marketing, outreach, and sustainable tourism.

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A Conversation about Plant Conservation in the Modern Era

Posted in Interesting Plant Stories on December 9, 2016 by Stevenson Swanson

Stevenson Swanson is the Science Media Manager at The New York Botanical Garden.


In Defense of PlantsIn the effort to conserve the planet’s biodiversity, plants tend to be overlooked. People spend much more time and money on “charismatic” species of animals. For instance, 100 percent of the world’s known threatened and endangered animals have been assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the most important global institution when it comes to evaluating such threats. But only assessed about five percent of plants have been assessed.

It’s a scary state of affairs, especially considering that so-called biodiversity hotspots are defined by their vascular flora.

The New York Botanical Garden is working to improve awareness and understanding about the botanical world. That was one of the topics when Matt Candeias of the blog and podcast “In Defense of Plants” interviewed Dr. Brian Boom who, among his other responsibilities at the Botanical Garden, is the Garden’s Vice President for Conservation Strategy.

To listen to their discussion about Dr. Boom’s career and how he became so passionate about plant conservation in the modern world, click here

Paris Conference Concludes with Accord on Climate Change, Emphasizing a Huge Role for the World’s Forests

Posted in Environment on December 14, 2015 by Brian Boom

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is Vice President for Conservation Strategy; Director, NYBG Press and Science Outreach; and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at NYBG.


Rio Falsino Brazil Rainforest
As noted in my most recent post, negotiators at the Paris climate conference, known as COP21, emphasized the importance of the role of forests in addressing global warming.

The big news in the resulting accord, signed by 195 countries on December 12, appeared in Article 2 on page 21, which calls for holding the increase in the global average temperature to “well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

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A Biological Strategy for Cooling a Warming Planet

Posted in Environment on December 9, 2015 by Brian Boom

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is Vice President for Conservation Strategy; Director, NYBG Press and Science Outreach; and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at NYBG.


Part of Myanmar’s Vast Forested Area
Part of Myanmar’s Vast Forested Area

Negotiators at the Paris climate change conference (known as COP21) are in the final stretch of their effort to reach a broad accord to limit carbon emissions. Switching to alternative sources of energy that do not rely on fossil fuels, such as wind, solar, nuclear, and geothermal, is a big component of the debate, alongside controversial approaches to sequestering carbon by means of “geoengineering.”

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As Negotiators Debate Climate Change in Paris, Some Nations Already Feel the Impacts of a Warming World

Posted in Environment on December 4, 2015 by Brian Boom

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is Vice President for Conservation Strategy, Director, NYBG Press and Science Outreach, and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at NYBG.


Climate changeDelegates at COP 21, the climate change conference in Paris, are debating the implications of global warming under various levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the years 2030, 2050, and beyond, but a subset of those delegates hailing from the South Pacific region are emphasizing that, for their nations, the future of climate change is now, as this recent New York Times story reported. Rising sea levels are threatening to engulf these low-lying islands.

Regular readers of this blog will know that The New York Botanical Garden is deeply engaged in a research and conservation project in the South Pacific, especially in Vanuatu, an island nation with a population of about 225,000 people who are spread over 65 islands and speak more than 113 indigenous languages; for a Science Talk post and short video about NYBG’s research in Vanuatu, see From the Field: A Botany Lesson in Vanuatu.

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Cuba Conference: Aiming For a New Model of Sustainable and Equitable Development

Posted in Travelogue on July 29, 2015 by Brian Boom

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is Vice President for Conservation Strategy, Director of NYBG Press and Science Outreach, and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at The New York Botanical Garden. The flora of Cuba is one of his research specialties.


The title of this post reflects the overarching theme of an international conference on the environment and development that was held recently in Havana, Cuba. I attended as a delegate from The New York Botanical Garden, making a presentation on novel methods to accelerate the conservation assessment of plant species so that plants can figure more centrally in the designation of new Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). I will write about these methods and KBAs later. For now, I wanted to report on the palpable energy and enthusiasm, both in tone and substance, for the diverse topics and perspectives on display in Havana during the week.

Cubambiente

This conference played out against the backdrop of a new era in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S., with a great many new implications for development and the environment in Cuba. The conference’s highlighting of development as a process that should be sustainable and equitable refers to the need for development to be fair for both developed and less developed nations. Hundreds of delegates from some two dozen countries made presentations and engaged in debates on more than a dozen themes such as protected natural areas, biodiversity and management of ecosystems, environmental justice, environmental education, natural history museums, and climate change. The Spanish program of the conference and the abstracts of presentations can be accessed here.

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Taking Conservation to a New Level: A Talk with the Garden’s Vice President for Conservation Strategy

Posted in Personalities in Science on April 8, 2015 by Stevenson Swanson

Stevenson Swanson is the Garden’s Science Media Manager.


Brian Boom New York Botanical Garden ConservationThe New York Botanical Garden recently established a new Conservation Program to increase its effectiveness as a global leader in conservation. Heading up this new initiative is Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany and Director of the NYBG Press and Science Outreach.

Dr. Boom, who now has the additional title of Vice President for Conservation Strategy, has been at the Garden for nearly three decades. A specialist in the Rubiaceae (the coffee family), he was previously the Director of the Botanical Garden’s Caribbean Biodiversity Program, with overall responsibility for the creation, operation, and management of the institution’s botanical research and conservation initiatives in the Caribbean.

I sat down with Dr. Boom in his office on the fourth floor of the Garden’s Library Building to ask him about the new Conservation Program’s goals and initiatives.

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A Salute to Scott Mori

Posted in Personalities in Science on March 26, 2015 by Brian Boom

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is Vice President for Conservation Strategy, Director of NYBG Press and Science Outreach, and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at The New York Botanical Garden.


Scott A. Mori, Ph.D., spent the vast majority of his long, distinguished career at The New York Botanical Garden, having arrived here in 1975 as Research Associate working with Dr. Ghillean Prance on the systematics and ecology of the Brazil nut family, Lecythidaceae. Last fall, some four decades later, he retired as Nathaniel Lord Britton Curator of Botany in the Garden’s Institute of Systematic Botany.

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