People of the Conservatory
Jared Rubinstein, Curator (he/him)
Jared oversees the operation of the Conservatory. With an MS in Applied Plant Sciences from the University of Minnesota, Jared has worked in numerous public gardens around the country including the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. He loves caring for plants and connecting them to people.
Adam Wegren, Conservatory Service Coordinator (he/him)
With a background in nursery greenhouse management, Adam is responsible for directing the horticultural care of our treasured living collection. He received a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Minnesota, with undergraduate research focused on how people-plant interactions can be leveraged to build more sustainable and resilient communities. Adam is an avid houseplant enthusiast, active in the Twin Cities plant community, and loves spending time in nature hiking, skiing and cycling.
Ruby Ales, Conservatory Assistant (she/her)
Ruby Ales is an undergraduate student in CBS majoring in Biology. She has worked in horticulture since 2018 and at the CBS Conservatory since 2021. Her main interests lie in evolution and how it leads to diversity.
Louisa Thein Brody, Conservatory Assistant (she/her):
Louisa is an undergraduate student studying environmental science, policy, and management with an emphasis in conservation and resource management. She focuses on using the beauty of the natural world to inspire meaningful connections between people and the planet and to motivate action on environmental issues.
Betsy Custis, Conservatory Assistant (she/her)
Betsy is in the Master of Biological Sciences Program focusing on plant Biology and conservation. She is interested in ex situ conservation and the role botanical institutions can play in germplasm preservation for reintroduction support. In the face of climate change, we will be creating more living museums in the form of conservatories and botanical gardens. Betsy wants to be a part of that movement! She also has a background in biology and secondary education.
Alex Crum, Conservatory Assistant (she/her)
Alex is a Ph.D candidate studying ethnobotany and the evolution of plant specialized metabolism (the chemicals plants make since they can't run away from bad situations) in the Yang lab in the Plant & Microbial Biology program. When she’s not in the lab or the conservatory, she’s trying a new recipe, foraging for some wild plants, or hanging out with her two Russian tortoises.
Thomas Lidahl, Conservatory Assistant (he/him)
Thomas is in the last year of his undergraduate studies in biochemistry, plant and microbial biology, Finnish, and Norwegian. He began at the Conservatory in May of 2023 but has been working in research at the U of M since 2020. Though currently involved in HIV-1 research, he enjoys knitting and Nordic skiing in his free time.
Hilary Major, Conservatory Assistant (she/her)
Hilary is finishing her Master of Biological Sciences degree with a focus on ecology with a thesis on soil health. She enjoys sending her friends and family pictures of all the cool plants she gets to water on Sundays, it's the best part of this job.
Valentine Sattin, Conservatory Assistant (he/him)
Valentine is an undergraduate student in CFANS studying Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. He particularly enjoys researching plants, insects, and reptiles and loves sharing interesting facts he learns with others. Valentine hopes to learn more about how to protect imperiled organisms and ecosystems and how to make nature and science more accessible to everyone. In his free time, Valentine has fun growing carnivorous plants, playing the mandocello, hiking, and making art.