Image of the Library Building

Brian M. Boom

Curator Emeritus

Ph.D., City University of New York
New York, NY, 1983


Systematic botany and ethnobotany; Rubiaceae; forest inventories; conservation


Neotropical systematic and economic botany; Rubiaceae; forest inventories

Research locations

Neotropics; Northeastern United States


A principal responsibility for me at the Garden is to provide executive leadership for the Center for Conservation Strategy. A newly created unit within the Science Division, the Center integrates talents and energies from across the institution. The Center’s focus is on Areas of Botanical Concern (ABC), defined as those places in the world with conservation challenges for which the Garden is uniquely positioned to make a major impact on conservation outcomes by strategically investing its institutional assets. Success of conservation outcomes is measured by the extent to which they protect the plants and fungi of the world, ever more challenging and urgent in the face of climate change.

As Director of The New York Botanical Garden Press, I oversee the operation of one of the largest publishing programs of any independent botanical garden in the world. The NYBG Press provides a means for communication of research carried out by scientists at the Garden and elsewhere. Established in 1896, the Press focuses on advancement in knowledge about the classification, utilization, and conservation of fungi and plants, publishing The Best New Books in Botany™.

As Director of Science Outreach my overall goal is improving environmental literacy among the public. This is accomplished through catalyzing citizen science initiatives, lectures, tours, workshops, and through social media. Opportunities abound at the Garden for the public’s engagement with science; for example, there are some 20 citizen science initiatives currently at the Garden, covering half a dozen topics.

In my research role as Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany, I have published on several groups of vascular plants, but most of my systematics research has centered on the Rubiaceae, the coffee family, including a revision of the genus Isertia, floristic accounts of the family at important biodiversity research sites in Amazonian Brazil (Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project) and in French Guiana, and descriptions of new species. I have led or participated in ecological forest inventories of trees in Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Bolivia, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. In conjunction with several such inventories, I have conducted ethnobotanical studies in which I have quantified the use of plants by local indigenous people (e.g., the Chacobo of Amazonian Bolivia and Panare of the Venezuelan Guayana). I currently lead the New York City EcoFlora project and efforts to conserve Ash trees in the Northeastern U.S.

Selected Publications

Mori, S.A., B.M. Boom, A.M. De Carvalho, and T.S. Dos Santos. 1983. Southern Bahian moist forests. Botanical Review 49(2): 155-232.

Prance, G.T., W. Balee, B.M. Boom, and R. Carneiro. 1987. Quantitative
ethnobotany and the case for conservation in Amazonia. Conservation Biology 1(4): 296-310.

Anandon-Irizarry, V., D.C. Wege, A. Upgren, R. Young, B. Boom, Y.M. Leon, Y. Arias, K. Koenig, A.L. Morales, W. Burke, A. Perez-Leroux, C. Levy, S. Koenig, L. Gape & P. Moore. 2012. Sites for priority biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot. Journal of Threatened Taxa 4(8): 2806–2844.

Atha, D. and B.M. Boom. 2017. Field Guide to the Ash Trees of Northeastern United States. Center for Conservation Strategy, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. NY. 26 pp.