Lisa Aston Philander, Curator
My educational background is interdisciplinary with interests in agroecology, ethnobotany, political ecology, and arid lands resources. I am interested in the histories of plant utilization and how different cultures use the same plant in a multitude of ways that are ever influenced by other cultures. My research focuses on traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa where I examined the trade of phytomedicines and developed community-based programming to conserve and grow endangered plant species. Instilling the love of plants is easy to do in this magical place that can transport you to different parts of the world by examining how rare and unusual plants have evolved to exist in various environments.
Angie Koebler, Conservatory Services Coordinator
In addition to maintaining the health of our existing Conservatory collection, I grow and maintain class-specific or research-specific plant material for various faculty and biology labs. I also serve as one of many operational caretakers for our 42-year-old Conservatory along with a dynamic team of tradesmen and craftsmen, otherwise known as Facilities Management.
Alex Eilts, Research Associate
Plants are awesome! Don't believe me? Come down to The Conservatory, and I'll show you what makes them so great. With my background in plant ecophysiology, I don't just see plants as pretty flowers, nice foliage, or food. Nope, plants are organisms that have adapted to a wide set of conditions despite common limitations. I particularly like examples of convergent evolution, when species have evolved similar adaptations despite not being closely related. Most people may see the diversity of plants as a green backdrop to our world, but I love the diversity of forms, shapes, and adaptations they display. Plants are every bit as diverse as animals, you just have to stop and look a little closer.
Reba Juetten, Museum Studies Intern
My internship has worked primarily on the Healing Landscapes exhibit, working on content research about medicinal plants and the people who use them along with grant applications to fund the exhibit and the application for the gallery space itself. I am currently in a Ph.D. program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, studying the history of botany and minoring in Museum Studies. In the future, I hope to combine my interests in plants, people, and education in a career in museums (including public gardens) or academia.
Sunshine Garden Club