SEB 2016 Conference and Botany in Action Fellowship

By Chelsie Romulo

This summer I attended the Society’s conference in Kentucky as a student member of SEB. This is my second SEB conference as I also attended the 2014 meeting in Cherokee NC. This summer was an exciting meeting for me because in 2014 I presented a concept poster of my dissertation proposal and this year I was able to present the first results of my research. Both of these meetings have been wonderfully productive academically as well as socially and I’ve found most SEB members very welcoming and encouraging to students and early career researchers. In

of attendants and the focus of Society. With a smaller group, everyone was able to fit on the grounds at Pine Mountain Settlement School, allowing us all to eat together and enjoy after-hours events such as the bonfire

experience of each and every session. This provided ample discussion topics and also encourages us to reach out beyond our research focus. I believe it is critically important for us to actively learn about work outside our specific field, which will allow for interesting collaborations and interpretation of our own studies.

The theme for this year’s meeting, Resilience in the Face of Resource Extraction, was the perfect place to highlight my work on community-based conservation of a non-timber forest product in the Peruvian Amazon. But although my work is conducted in the tropical rainforest, it was great to see how other researchers address similar situations and answer

fact, at the first SEB conference, I attended I met another researcher who studies the focal species of my dissertation and we have a paper together currently in review!

The SEB meeting is very different than other conferences I attend, because of the number

and bourbon tasting. These casual interactions have really helped me approach and develop relationships with more established researchers and allow for continued conversations throughout the conference week. There was also only one session running at a time resulting in all attendees having the shared similar questions in other contexts. I also learned a lot, especially about ethnobotanical work in the Appalachia region near where I live in Virginia.

In this article, I would also like to highlight a fantastic fellowship that may be of interest to other SEB student members. This is my 3rd year as a Botany in Action Fellow with Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh. The BIA Fellowship has supported most of my dissertation research and also provided me with support and experience conducting outreach and education through their annual Science Engagement Week. For the Science Engagement Week, Phipps brings all 6 Fellows to Pittsburgh for a series of workshops related to outreach and engagement, ranging from speaking to different audiences, graphic design, creating information tables and signs, to scientific illustration. These topics have proven invaluable to much of my work and have not been covered in the traditional science programs I have been in for most of my academic career. In addition to the workshops, we also get to practice our new skills by conducting formal presentations to school groups and the public and creating educational materials for Phipps displays including a scientist display, research blog posts, and radio interviews. 


SEB student members Aurélie Jacquet and Chelsie Romulo participating in a “Meet the Scientist” event during the 2014 Science Engagement Week as part of the Botany in Action Fellowship by Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

For all the SEB students, I definitely encourage you to attend the annual meetings and apply for the Botany in Action Fellowship if it is a good fit for your research.

For more information about Botany in Action (Applications due in January) :

The story first published in the Fall 2016 issue of Plants and People, the Newsletter of the Society for Economic Botany. Find it here.

Chelsie Romulo is a student member of Society for Economic Botany,  PhD Candidate at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA Botany in Action Fellow at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA. You can follow her research and activities here: 

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