Botany 2019 in Tucson, Arizona

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This year the large, national conference hosted by the Botanical Society of America (jointly with several smaller scientific and botanical societies) was held in the beautiful Tucson, Arizona. I had never been to Tucson and I was utterly blown away with how beautiful it is. I work in the Mojave and I love it, of course, but WOW, the Sonoran is something else. It is so green, even in the middle of summer! And in less than a week we were lucky to get two rainfalls; one lovely sprinkling and one massive monsoon. We also saw so many animals. The place is absolutely riddled with quails and mourning doves. I also saw quite a few cottontail rabbits. The first day there I saw a gorgeous Western diamondback rattlesnake and my friends saw a bobcat. Others at the conference saw a family of javelinas, an extremely large (and perhaps non-native) bullfrog, a coyote, and a roadrunner. Not to mention all the incredible plants! Like the hills of saguaro!!

Botany this year was also cool for another, more scholarly reason. I found it really inspiring and motivating, which really could not have come at a better time. I’m starting the 5th year of my PhD program and things are starting to wrap up. It’s a lot of pressure and sometimes I question if this career path is worth it, and if my research is worth it. However I had such excellent discussions about my projects and saw such inspiring presentations that I really feel moved to keep going, and with more umph. Plus, it was itself a reunion of so many I have worked with or went to school with will working within “botany” and it was so lovely to see them. it gave me a taste of what the rest of my career could be like: annual meet-ups with people I know, value, and can learn from who are now all over the country (or world!). It felt like a family reunion in a lot of ways, but a botanical family. A mossfam, even. It was nice, and I’m ready to knock out this PhD.

Jenna Ekwealor
Jenna Ekwealor
PhD Candidate

I am a UC Berkeley PhD Candidate studying evolution & eco-physiology of desiccation-tolerant desert mosses.

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