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The Quest To Understand (and Manage) Invasive Phragmites


Mar 16, 2021 06:46 PM

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Melissa McCormick
Principal Investigator, Ecologist @Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Melissa McCormick is an ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, where she has studied plants and plant-fungus interactions since arriving as a postdoctoral fellow in 1999. She received a B.S. in Biology from Trinity University in Texas and a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior from Michigan State University. Melissa leads a program that applies molecular techniques to understand ecological processes. She uses field and DNA techniques to study plant invasions, plant conservation and plant-fungus interactions. A major focus of her recent research is using genetic variation patterns to understand plant invasions and how wetland species respond to human-caused changes. The bulk of this work has involved Phragmites australis. She is also a founding member of the North American Orchid Conservation Center, a pioneering initiative linking botanic gardens, land managers and researchers to conserve North America's native orchids. (Photo: Eranga Wettewa)
Dennis Whigham
Senior Botanist @Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Dennis Whigham’s research on plant ecology has taken him on journeys around the world, studying orchids, vines, wetland species, invasive species and forests in the tropics, temperate and boreal zones. His current research focuses on the role of wetlands linked to juvenile salmon habitat in Alaska; the rarest terrestrial orchid in eastern North America; and an invasive wetland reed that is rapidly expanding across the U.S. He is also the founding director of the North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC), a Smithsonian and U.S. Botanic Garden initiative to secure the diversity of North America’s native orchids. NAOCC includes over 50 collaborating organizations, from Florida to Alaska. Whigham obtained his undergraduate degree from Wabash College and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. He joined the Smithsonian in 1977. Whigham and his collaborators have published over 250 articles in journals and books, and he has co-edited 10 books. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Whigham)