POSITION¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Society for Economic Botany ‚Äď Student Representative-elect
LENGTH OF TERM¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 8 June 2018 ‚Äď June/July 2020


The Student Representative-elect serves a two-year term on the Society for Economic Botany, first as the Vice President of the Student Committee and then as the President of SEB Student Committee and as a voting member on the SEB Council. This position is responsible for spearheading initiatives of the Student Committee, and promoting student outreach. The Student Representative holds voting rights on the SEB Council just as other SEB Council members. At the annual meeting, they are also responsible for organizing a student social event, and for presenting a summary of the student council’s activities during their term. The Senior Student Representative will fill one of the at-large SEB Council positions and will hold voting rights just as any other Council member. The Senior Representative will take the primary leadership role, but the interaction is expected to be collaborative with contributions from both the Senior Representative and the Representative Elect. For more information please contact current Student Representative Alexander O’Neill ( or Student Representative-elect Susanne Masters (

Established in 1959, The Society of Economic Botany is an international organization dedicated to research and outreach activities related to plant resources. It is principally interested in the relationship between plants and people, and ensuring the results of such research are accessible to both the scientific community and the public. Currently, the society draws members from over 60 countries, who are concerned with botanical, phytochemical and ethnological studies of plants known to be useful or those which may have potential uses so far undeveloped.

This position is open to Masters and PhD-candidates who are currently enrolled. Please send a one-page resume as well as cover letter that speaks to your qualifications for this position and what you hope to achieve as the Student Representative. Submissions should be sent to both Alexander O’Neill ( or Student Representative-elect Susanne Masters (

The deadline for this application is 23 April 2018.

Alexander O’Neill
Student Representative, SEB

SEB Student Blog |
Society for Economic Botany
4475 Castleman Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
Ph. 314-577-9566, Fx 314-577-9515
Mission: To foster and encourage scientific research, education, and related activities on the past, present, and future uses of plants, and the relationship between plants and people, and to make the results of such research available to the scientific community and the general public through meetings and publications.

Catalyzing Advocacy in Ethnobotany

Written by Grady Zuiderveen

From March 18 to March 21 nearly 200 upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in science and engineering from across the country descended on Washington DC for a three-and-a-half-day workshop on catalyzing advocacy in science and engineering (CASE) sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about how science advocacy takes place in DC, and how scientists can become more involved. During the event, there were sessions on the federal budget process and how science policy is made, as well as overviews on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and how Congress operates.

The last session of the workshop focused on how to effectively communicate science both to the general public, and the legislators that ultimately decide on science funding. The discussion was led by previous staffers who had firsthand experience in interacting with constituents that visited them on Capitol Hill, and could provide clear examples of what was effective, and what was not. The workshop then culminated in an opportunity to visit with members of Congress and their staff.

As ethnobotanists, we do really interesting and exciting work that is often at the intersection of science and policy. It is critical that our voices are heard both for the importance of the science that we conduct as well as for the livelihoods of the people whose lives our work is so often intertwined. In my own research, for example, I am investigating the habitat and chemistry of goldenseal in Pennsylvania as well as surveying regional medicinal plant dealers in hopes of finding effective methods for the long term sustainability of the species. Understanding the science is critical, and working with stakeholders is essential, but the importance of using that information to inform policy cannot be overlooked. Too often we consider our work complete when we publish our findings, but without advocating for what we do, our work does not achieve its maximum impact.

If you are interested in learning more, or even participating in the workshop in the future, check out the AAAS website at

SEB Conference Awards – 7 March 2018

This year the SEB awill be providing eight travel awards for students to attend our joint conference in Madison, Wisconsin (3 – 7 June 2018). Four awards will be granted to student and postdocs, and another 4 will be dedicated to members from developing countries or countries recently affect by natural disasters. The deadline is quickly approaching – 7 March 2018.

Indigenous Biocultural Exchange Fund

Great opportunity to sponsor you or our SEB affiliates!

IIE Logo sized for Program Pages.png

The Indigenous Biocultural Exchange (IBEX) Fund provides financial assistance to an individual to attend global biocultural events/exchanges or meetings of international significance which impacts the applicant’s home territory or region. This fund supports indigenous peoples and local communities to have a voice in the policies and forums that concern biocultural diversity at a global level.

Applications will be accepted until January 29, 2018 at 11:59 pm EDT for conferences taking place between March 1, 2018 to July 31, 2018. You can find the application form online. Please take time to review the eligibility requirements before completing the application.

Job Opportunity: Remote Sensing, GIScience and Ethnobiology

This is an excellent opportunity and example of interdisciplinary applications of ethnobiology and economic botany. Please check the job description, as it describes technical skills demanded in our evolving field.

Alexander R. O’Neill

Student Representative, Society for Economic Botany and Masters Candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University


Northwest Indian College invites applicants for a full-time faculty position on Lummi campus. This position has primary teaching responsibilities that support the BS in Native Environmental Science, and research related to harmful algae, ocean color, and remote sensing through the Salish Sea Research Center. Research and scholarship related to this position will focus on climate resiliency issues important to the students and communities that Northwest Indian College serves. The candidate should hold a MS or PhD in earth, atmospheric, or geospatial science, or a closely related discipline, with extensive experience in climate science, environmental science, or natural resources. The applicant’s work should engage with climate resiliency issues, as applicable to GIS, remote sensing, and ocean color. In addition, preference will be given to applicants with experience with critical geography / cartography. Applicants should also have experience with maintaining and upgrading hardware and software typically used in GIS and GPS applications, such as: ArcGIS, Terra Sync, and Trimble GPS equipment. Experience with open-source software used in GIS and image processing is highly desired.

More details available here:

Researching Ayahuasca in the Amazon

Written by Michael Coe, SEB Student Ambassador at Large.

Over the last few months I have been working with several volunteers from Alianza Arkana as well as Laura Dev, the Research Coordinator for Alianza Arkana, to help assess the overall importance and sustainability of medicinal plants among certain Shipibo communities.

Before beginning the research, I participated in a focus group that Alianza Arkana facilitated in the community of Paoyhan, to discuss priority areas that the community would want to focus their efforts for future development.

When we asked the community members who attended the focus group about how they felt about the importance of traditional botanical knowledge, they discussed how having a local botanical garden would help them access plants that have become more difficult to find in the area and aid in passing on local ecological knowledge to younger generations.

I agreed to help with this project, as it will provide a way to give back to the community in a tangible way. During the focus group, community members agreed that the research I had planned for my dissertation, aimed to determine which medicinal plants were important and irreplaceable to the community, would be complementary to the long-term community driven botanical garden project.

To do this work, we interviewed 30 community members of diverse ages about their use of various plants for medicinal purposes, such as for illness, injuries, during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as for artisanal purposes such as dyeing fabrics. We also asked about which plants were easy to access, and whether they were already being grown or managed.

(Laura Dev, Maestro Gilberto Mahua, and Michael Coe in Paoyhan after an interview with the Maestro about important medicinal plants he uses for healing and learning.)

We anticipate that the results from these interviews will aid the community in determining which plants will be essential to include in their botanical garden. Although the botanical garden project is in the initial planning phases now, we are looking forward to developing this project further with the community, and will be writing more about the garden as it progresses.

In a different Shipibo community, we conducted research in efforts to help aid the development of a forest management plan for an economically important medicinal vine species, Banisteriopsis caapi, which is one of the two plants used to make ayahuasca, a culturally important psychoactive brew.

I designed a demographic project and worked with Laura Dev, Diego Kau, Orestes Rengifo, and Karl Vikat from Alianza Arkana, as well as other Shipibo community members, to assess the effect of harvest on wild populations of vines in the community territory.  In total, we gathered the first season of plant demographic data on a wild population of over 200 B. caapi vines located in a primary forested area of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, owned and managed by the Shipibo community.


(Wild Banisteriopsis caapi a.k.a ayahuasca growing in the Peruvian Amazon.)





During our field work, we spent seven days in the forest taking measurements of vines, and mapping out plots over the territory. We set up 6 plots (3 with high harvest levels and 3 with low harvest levels), to assess the effect of harvest pressure. The conditions were both challenging and rewarding, with long days walking through the dense forest in the heat without clear paths, locating plants. One of the greatest challenges we faced, to be honest, is that every time we stopped to take measurements or record notes, we were feasted upon by relentless swarms of mosquitoes, more intensely than we had ever hoped to experience.

Despite the discomforts at the time, we learned a lot from the experience, and our admiration of our local Shipibo guides only increased as we saw how effortlessly and skillfully they navigated this difficult terrain, and how deeply they knew the plants and the forest. We are grateful for the opportunity to see the plants in their native habitat and to begin this project, which we anticipate will contribute to helping these important plants persist over time.

We will follow up with at least one more year of demographic data to fulfill essential data requirements needed to assess long term population dynamics of the vines. This study has the potential to illustrate the critical importance of carefully managing harvest regimes of B. caapi populations. Managers employing harvest regimes based on results informed by this study will have greater capacity to develop more realistic management plans that are ecologically sound with respect to long term sustainability of B. caapi harvested populations.

(Karl Vikat, Laura Dev, and Michael Coe ready to head out into the forest to begin setting up plots and taking measurements for an ayahuasca vine sustainability study outside of a Shipibo community).


A version of this article was first published on the Alianza Arkana website, and was reproduced with permission of the author.