Field of Science

Botanical Meetings 2010

When about 1000 botanists get together you learn a few things. It's also nice to see alot of colleagues and friends, some of which go back 40 years, and it's important for the students to see that there is more to a profession, a career, than just the degrees and stuff, it's the people. And the exciting thing is too find out about all the new things that people have learned. They know how big the first trees were and how they grew (cladoxylopsids). People continue to discuss (argue) about the results of different data sets and the resulting evolutionary relationships among seed plants (but that part of my book isn't going to be revised again!). Parasitic plants may rob nitrogen from grasses and then recycle it in such a way as to benefit grasses. But the ones in my research are doing something different, which is good because otherwise these guys would have scooped the Phactor. Someone found rootlike structures on fossils of some of the earliest land plants, but they probably aren't roots, but rhizoids, filamentous outgrowths with an anchoring/absorbing function. And just an hour ago a convincing argument was made that carpels and anthers, the reproductive organs of flowering plants, predate flowers, i.e., that organization of parts that we call flowers. All very wonderful, and best discussed over cold beer. And my pocket is filled with business cards for collaborations and sharing of information and specimens, and lots of new connections will result. And this is why it's important to be an active part of a profession, and you cannot find a better one than botany, and when you see the vitality of this group is doesn't seem possible that our profession can be in jeopardy, but it is and more and more jobs and programs and departments disappear into human bio-medical black holes.

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