Field of Science

Annual Botanical Meeting - St. Louis

Going to St. Louis about 200 miles to the south and in the Mississippii River valley in July is not the smartest time to visit. It's smarter than visiting in August, but not by much. Part of the reason for the meeting's location is of course the Missouri Botanical Garden. So a thousand or so botanists, members of the Botanical Society of America, professional botanists of all sorts and their students, will descend on the city, and actually the weather matters little because the meetings are 4 days of jam packed meetings, posters, and talks where you seldom venture out of the meeting venue usually some sort of convention center or big hotel. Why there's hardly any time left for socializing. You get to meet new young colleagues, and that's good, because members in my age group are beginning to thin out and the Phactor sees fewer of his graduate school cohorts every year, although usually a couple of my former students attend, and it's great to see what they're up to. A decade ago one of my mentors set an incredible record. He had attended the botanical meetings in 8 different decades having first gone to the meetings in the late 1930s and there he was in attendance at the 2001 meetings. That was the last time we saw each other, and his last publication, co-authored by my undergrad advisor/mentor, was posthumous. That is quite an example to live up to. The other thing that is fascinating is to examine the remarkably diverse array of research topics being presented by my colleagues. It's hard to believe. You can actually view the abstracts here. The big problem is that this is a classic 8 ring circus, and for some of us who are interested in lots of things, in the Phactor's case ranging across ecology, paleobotany, floral biology, education, evolution and phylogeny, you generally find that 4 or 5 presentations are being made at the same time & you simply give up and go have a cup of coffee. People who are more specialized simply plant themselves in a session and stay until everyone runs out of gas. Unfortunately at least one presentation has yet to be finished, so stop blogging and get going.

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