Botanists Gather at WSU, Offer Student Opportunities, Collaborative Science

PULLMAN, Wash. — Botanical experts from around the world will meet this weekend, May 2-3, at Washington State University. Illustrating the international collaboration upon which contemporary science thrives, the participants will develop preview presentations for the angiosperm, or flowering plant, symposia of the 1999 International Botanical Congress.
The two-day workshop, hosted by WSU botany professors Doug and Pam Soltis, focuses on phylogeny, or tracing the lines of descent, of angiosperms.
“The idea behind the workshop,” said Pam Soltis, “is that people who are involved in each research area should get together to coordinate the efforts of each area’s symposium speakers prior to the IBC.” Preview presentations will be held on Sunday, May 2 and are open to the public. They will begin at 9:00 a.m. in Todd Hall, Room 276. Participants will have twenty minutes each to preview their findings.
The workshop is also designed to benefit students. “My Botany 332 class will attend, as well as some undergraduate students from our lab. Graduate students from both WSU and the University of Idaho will attend as well. It will give them the opportunity to meet with people whom they otherwise would not have a chance to,” Soltis said.
Both Pam and Doug Soltis will be among the 20 presenters speaking at the workshop. The workshop symposia will be subdivided into three overall categories. The first symposium will focus on the morphology and fossil history of the ancient family groups or taxa. The second symposium, in which Pam Soltis will speak, also focuses on these main branches, but more in terms of DNA divergence. Doug Soltis will speak in the third symposium, which focuses on the overall structure of the phylogenetic trees.
“The WSU workshop will give people the opportunity to have extended conversations. That’s important because the IBC may have as many as 10,000 people attending it,” Pam said. “With so many things going on, we may not actually have much opportunity to meet, particularly with our overseas colleagues, even though that’s a major goal of the meeting,” she said of the IBC.
The International Botanical Congress will be held in St. Louis in August. It convenes every six years, bringing together researchers from around the world, as well as from many disciplines in the field of plant science. Prior to St. Louis, the Congress was last held in the United States in 1969 in Seattle.
A $20,000 allocation from the Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group will sponsor the WSU workshop.