RSABG Scientists at 2011 Botany Conference

They met in St. Louis

A large contingent from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden's research department, including faculty, students and postdoctoral fellows attended the Botany 2011 and conducted presentations on their research findings July 2011. Erin Tripp's took home honors for best contributed paper in plant systematics by a young scientist. 

The annual conference, themed ‘Healing the Planet’ for 2011, convened members of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, the Society for Economic Botany and the American Fern Society.


  • Doctoral candidate Naomi S. Fraga shared the findings of her work with a clade of diminutive Mimulus in the Phrymaceae (Monkeyflower family). She has determined a number of new species, including some with amusing common names such as ‘eye strain’ and ‘ rock midget’ Mimulus.
  • Morphology of sepal crests in Iris (Iridaceae / Iris family) by doctoral candidate Jinyan Guo and her advisor Carol A. Wilson, research associate professor of botany. Their research focuses on the ‘feathery’ structures that run along the rib of the sepals of certain groups of Iris.
  • Doctoral candidate Kristen E. Hasenstab-Lehmann’s presentation reflected the work she has done to date on the genus Varronia, a member of the Borage family (Boraginaceae).
  • Doctoral student Carrie A. Kiel will present her findings on New World justiciods, an enigmatic group of genera in the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae).
  • Extreme polyphylogeny of the genus Carlowrightia in the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae) by Judith B. Friend Director of Research and Professor and Chair of the CGU Botany Department Lucinda A. McDade. In this case, McDade’s research seems to indicate that the origins of this genus developed through a combination and/or an evolution of qualities derived from more than one ancestral group.
  • Haustoria in Orobanchaceae by Jeffery J. Morawetz, The Fletcher Jones Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at RSABG. Hautoria are the fascinating structure of the parasitic plant (in this case, a member of the Broomrape family) that connect it to its host plant.
  • Research on the phylogeny of self-compatible Loeselia, a genus in the Polemoniaceae (Phlox family) by J. Mark Porter, associate professor and RSABG research scientist. Porter suggests that despite the ability of this taxon to self-fertilize, this trait is not an evolutionary ‘dead end.’
  • Linda M. Prince, associate research professor of botany and RSABG research scientist, will share her work on the very beautiful flowering tree Franklinia, a member of the Tea family (Theaceae). Franklinia grew in southeastern Georgia and is now extinct in the wild, but continues to be cultivated as an ornamental.
  • RSABG postdoctoral researcher Erin A. Tripp, following fieldwork in China presented her latest findings on the genus Physacanthus in the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae).Tripp was named the George R. Cooley Award recipient for the best contributed paper in plant systematics. Each year the American Society of Plant Taxonomists recognizes an outstanding paper judged to be the best among those presented by young scientists (graduate student or postdoctoral fellow) at the conference.


  • RSABG postdoctoral researcher Hester L. Bell’s poster addresses sympatry of three species of Distichlis (Poaceae / Grass family) in Baja California. This ‘salt grass’ is sympatric because the range of its species overlap or are even identical, so that they occur together at least in some places.
  • Doctoral candidate Saeideh Mashayekhi shows highlights of her research on Allium, wild onions (Alliaceae).
  • RSABG research assistant, Siti MD Isa’s poster reflects her work on Satanocrater, a seemingly sinister-named genus in the Acanthus family (Acanthaceae), which occurs in Africa.