Science Program: Vision
The Chicago Botanic Garden’s plant biology and conservation science programs will make unique contributions addressing present-day ecological problems by integrating theoretical research, applied solutions, and adaptive management to save individual species—as well as communities of species—at varying geographic scales from local to international, especially within human-impacted landscapes.
Garden scientists will address the critical need to grow botanical capacity through formal and informal training programs, including mentoring College First students and undergraduate interns, offering programs such as the Conservation Land Management Internship program, and training scientists and land managers through the joint Garden–Northwestern University graduate degree program and other academic partnerships.
Garden scientists and students, often working in collaboration with scientists from other institutions and agencies, will undertake rigorous research studies that address key biological questions that have plant conservation applications and advance the frontiers of basic science.
In doing so, the Garden’s science programs will discover critically important knowledge and create practical land and water management tools and solutions to address environmental challenges facing society.
Science Program: Goals
IV.1 Discoveries resulting from research by Chicago Botanic Garden scientists and students, and enhanced conservation resources such as the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank, will mitigate the loss of plant diversity and lay the foundation for healthy ecosystems. Garden scientists will be able to measure and articulate how their work has succeeded in addressing the most pressing threats to plants, i.e., habitat change (e.g., fragmentation and land-use changes), climate change, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution.
IV.2 The Garden will enhance its position as a leading center for training scientists, restoration ecologists, and land managers focused on saving plants, plant communities, and the diverse organisms that occur in these communities, including fungi and pollinators. Our training programs will build national and international capacity and workforce diversity in plant and fungal biology and conservation science through undergraduate internships, graduate degree programs, and partnerships with universities, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. Internships will provide meaningful professional experience for young people and documented, recognized, valuable services to the agencies and institutions they serve.
IV.3 The joint Garden–Northwestern University M.S. and Ph.D. program in plant biology and conservation will provide an extraordinary opportunity for students to become tomorrow’s leaders in botanical science and plant conservation. The program will have a strong and diverse applicant pool, and its graduates will be engaged in stemming the loss of plant diversity.
IV.4 The Garden will provide rigorous, science-based information about plants and the natural world to the general public, scientific community, and policy makers. Garden scientists will become the first choice of professional societies, institutions, and agencies worldwide to serve on panels and external committees, providing leadership in plant conservation, restoration, policy, and practice; special emphasis will be given to provide leadership for the Plant Conservation Alliance Non-Federal Cooperator Committee and Botanic Garden Conservation International U.S.
IV.5 The Garden’s Ornamental Plant Research program will enhance its strong efforts in developing, evaluating, and releasing new horticultural plants. It will be a national leader in improving the landscapes and gardens of the midwestern United States and comparable climates while respecting the ecological integrity of natural areas. Efforts will include expanding planting options available for roof gardens and other emerging environmentally conscious gardens. The Garden will strengthen partnerships with appropriate nurseries around the world to introduce plants, thereby generating significant earned income.
IV.6 The Lenhardt Library will be a much-used and highly regarded source of knowledge easily accessible to all of the Garden’s publics. Enhanced institutional and public awareness of the Archives of the Chicago Horticultural Society will foster new research projects and a better understanding of the role of plant science, gardens, and gardening in the quality of human lives.
IV.7 The Plant Information Service program will enhance its ability to serve as the public’s first choice for timely, authoritative, and effective information about growing plants and diagnosing the disease and pest problems occurring in and on plants. Updated, informative online fact sheets and resources will supplement personalized responses to questions from individuals submitted in person, over the phone, online, and through social media.