We are very excited to announce the Oak Spring eFLOWER Summer School to be held at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, Virginia (USA) from 18 to 27 September 2018!
The goal of the Summer School is to deliver high-quality training in the modern comparative methods used to study plant macroevolution. While the methods are general and applicable to any group of organisms, all of our empirical datasets will be drawn from our recent work on flowering plants. A unique feature of this School will be that the students themselves will participate in the creation of the datasets (floral traits and fossil calibrations) in our collaborative database PROTEUS, thereby gaining hands-on experience of the problems and questions associated with compiling data and building real-life datasets for comparative analyses. In doing so, we hope to further promote the rapidly evolving field of macroevolution among graduate students in plant sciences, while also conveying our experience in building high-quality datasets.
For all details, see our website: www.eflower.org
The Oak Spring eFLOWER Summer School is sponsored by the Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OGSF) and the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB).
Last week, I flew across the Pacific and North America to attend a short meeting on floral evolution at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, Virginia. Although I spent as much time on the planes as in the meeting, this was well worth the very long trip!
The Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OGSF) was established to perpetuate the passions and legacy of Rachel Lambert Mellon, a very wealthy woman who spent her life growing plants in her garden and estate and researching the history of gardening and landscape. Sir Peter Crane, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a World leader in research on plant evolution, was recently (2016) named President of the Foundation. Based at the main residence of the Mellons in the countryside of upstate Virginia, on the foothills of the Appalachians (ca. one-hour drive from Washington, D.C.), the Foundation is currently investing heavily on restoration and renovations of the estate, which is progressively being set as an ideal venue for small conferences, workshops, and retreats.
The aim of the Foundation under Peter Crane’s leadership is to become a new center of stimulation of all things botanical, from fundamental research in plant evolution and conservation to historical landscaping and gardening, similar to the role that NESCent (Durham) and NCEAS (Santa Barbara) have played in general evolution and ecology, respectively. The Oak Spring Garden Foundation will soon start funding various actions on a grant call basis, including on-site and off-site workshops and training actions as well as a small number of PhD and postdoc fellowships.
The workshop on floral evolution was organized by Adam Roddy, a postdoc at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The aim was to foster cross-disciplinary discussions on the topic of floral evolution. The choice of participants drew from all ends of the spectrum of floral evolution, from paleobotany and macroevolution to pollination biology, the population genetics of sex, and floral physiology. The twelve invited participants came mostly from the U.S., but also Austria, the U.K., and Australia (myself). The small group size and friendly atmosphere were ideally suited for quality interactions among all the participants. All expenses were kindly supported by the Foundation and the quality of organization and service was outstanding, in addition to the exceptional setting of the location. This was definitely a fascinating and very enjoyable meeting and I already look forward to come back to Oak Spring!
Today I have officially started my new job as a Systematic Botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney, Australia!
I worked here as a postdoc 11 years ago (as a Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellow) and felt completely under the charm of Australia and Sydney during that time. The Laboratoire Écologie, Systématique, Évolution (ESE) at Université Paris-Sud in France turned out to be an excellent place for me to start my academic career 8 years ago and I have been very happy in Orsay and lucky to be surrounded by wonderful colleagues there, but now is the time to start a new chapter of my life. Among the many reasons that motivated me to take the chance and apply for this new job are the unique environment and exceptional setting of my new workplace: think of a botanical garden (with many exciting living collections), a herbarium, and a molecular lab all together in one of the most spectacular central locations (pictured above, we are on the left, behind the Opera House) in a vibrant, international modern city on the edge of the Pacific with a subtropical climate. I am particularly excited to start working with a really nice set of very friendly botanists (some of whom are old friends!) from all ends of the taxonomy-evolution-ecology spectrum. And of course, I am really excited about the fascinating Australian flora, which I am going to (re-)discover, tweet about, and work on over the next few years.
I am based at the National Herbarium of New South Wales, located in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, one of three botanical gardens run by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, and am officially employed by the New South Wales Government. This is a permanent research position (officially referred to as a role within the organization), with some curational duties. Compared to my previous job as Associate Professor at Université Paris-Sud, this means that I will be able to continue my research projects on eFLOWER, Magnoliidae, and Proteaceae (with increased focus on the Australian flora), but will no longer have to teach and instead will be expected to maintain up-to-date and accurate herbarium collections and databases. However, I will remain affiliated with my former lab and university for the next five years, in the context of ongoing collaborations and the supervision of Qian Zhang's PhD.
I will be looking for new students (honours, master's, PhD), postdocs, and local collaborators so feel free to contact me about ideas / opportunities to join us or visit us!