Guiding Principles

The Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development (CCSD) explores and implements new, science-based approaches to the conservation and sustainable use of plant diversity. CCSD’s strategies for conservation are based on a sound, scientific understanding of the occurrence, distribution, and ecology of plants.


CCSD is committed to the following principles:

  • Pursuit both of research in biodiversity and conservation and of conservation action
  • A focus on geographical areas where conservation need is urgent and the Missouri Botanical Garden has both expertise and a depth of  experience 
  • A commitment to continually strengthen training and exchange of knowledge with people in these priority geographical areas so that they have the tools to contribute toward building a sustainable future 
  • An emphasis on collaborative and participatory conservation




  1. Advance biodiversity and conservation research to provide a sound basis for    formulating conservation strategies and practical solutions and for advocating for these strategies
  2. Continue to apply the outcomes of research in biodiversity science and conservation biology to conserve rare and endangered plant species and their habitats and to engage St. Louis area residents with plant conservation 
  3. Further develop community programs aimed at conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and improved well-being of community residents
  4. Expand capacity building programs aimed at developing abilities to implement conservation
  5. Strengthen, and continue to build, partnerships with public and private sector organizations and agencies to foster conservation, and continue to participate in and promote the international conservation endeavor


The work of CCSD is made possible through the very generous
support of the Bellwether Foundation, private donors, and other funding organizations.



Matthew Albrecht, Ph.D.
Director of CCSD
Conservation Scientist
Iván Jiménez, Ph.D.
Barbara Alongi
Senior Administrative Assistant
Allison Miller, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Burgund Bassüner, Ph.D.
Science Specialist
Conservation Genetics
Olga Martha Montiel
Research Associate
Rachel Brant, Ph.D.
Post doctoral fellow
Conservation Genetics
Hans Rajaonera
Communications and
Education Officer
Madagascar Program
Indiana Coronado
Research Fellow
Jordyn Riehn
Research Specialist
Brad Delfeld
Research Specialist

Adam Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist
Global Change Ecologist
Noah Dell
Science Specialist
Conservation Ecology
Bladimir Terán
Environmental Specialist
Bolivia Program
Christine Edwards, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist
Stephen and Camilla Brauer Conservation Geneticist
Rodolfo Vásquez
 Peru Program
Jordan Hathaway
Science Specialist
Amy Zanne, Ph.D.
Research Associate  


Lab tour for volunteers from the education department
October 9, 2023, a group of volunteers from the education department of the Garden visited our Conservation Genetics Lab. Burgund Bassuner explained the work of the lab and answered all the interesting questions asked by the volunteers. Both Garden staff and volunteers said that they were fascinated by the conservation work that CCSD does.


Our 2023 REU students, their projects, and mentors
Maura Collins (Washington College). Survival and phenology variation in a threatened oak species (Quercus arkansana) by provenance and maternal lineage. Mentors: Iván Jiménez, Becky Succher and Georgia Thomas. Heather Gray (Appalachian State University). Effects of prairie restoration practices on vegetation structure and invasion by Sericea lespedeza. Mentors: Andrew Kaul and Matthew Albrecht. Luka Sato (Brown University). Phylogeny and species boundaries of Xyris in North America (Xyridaceae, Poales). Mentor: Christy Edwards. Aliya Swearngin (Grinnell College). Phylogeny reconstruction and population genetic analysis to assess the distinctiveness of Trifolium kentuckiense. Mentors: Brigitte Williams and Christy Edwards. Allison Rea (Washington University in St. Louis) Provenance-dependent variation in the growth rate of a threatened shrub (Neviusia alabamensis) at a common garden. Mentors: Iván Jiménez, Becky Succher and Georgia Thomas

New publication, June, 22, 2023







The article on Leavenworthia phenology came out this past week.  This involved Matt Austin (LEC postdoc), Amy Zanne (Garden Research Associate), James Beck (Garden Research Associate), and Kelsey Bartlett (undergrad, Graham Fellowship awardee), and Adam Smith.  Matt Austin also worked with HEC Media to produce a short mini-documentary on the paper. 
Follow the link for the mini documentary and here you could read the paper.

Matthew Albrecht in interview

Matthew Albrecht was interviewed on Saint Louis on the Air "How to bring extinct plants back from the dead". To learn more, please follow the link.

Photo: Brian Munoz, St. Louis Public Radio, 2/20/23

Webinar with 400 viewers

Drs. Adam Smith, Stephen Murphy, and Kelley Erickson, completed a webinar on using herbarium and museum data in ecology that was attended by 400 viewers April 10, 2020.  Information on the webinar, including a recording, can be found here.

Genome Publication Award 2019

Dr. Christy Edwards won with her publication: "Evaluating the efficacy of sample collection approaches and DNA metabarcoding for identifying the diversity of plants utilized by nectivorous bats"  (Genome, 2019,62(1): 19–29, the Genome publication Award 2019 from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Research Press.

Congratulation to Isabel and Serena
Isabela Loza and Serena Acha defended their PhD Thesis at UMSL. Both came from the Madidi Project to our department. Isabela was co-advised by Ivan Jimenez and Serena by Christy Edwards.




Award for Rodolfo Vasquez



Rodolfo Vasquez, director of our program in Peru,  was honored by the botanical and conservation  communities in an event in his honor, organized by   the Universidad Agraria La Molina in Lima.
He was also honored by the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment on the occasion of the celebration of the XXXIII Anniversary of the creation of the Yanachaga-Chemillen National Park for his contributions to the conservation of the Park.


List of Fellowship winners 2020

 Please find it here.



 We welcome Belen Alvestegui from Bolivia and William Farfan-Rios from Peru at CCSD. Belen recently finished a bachelor’s degree in biology at Universidad Mayor de San Andes in La Paz Bolivia as part of the Madidi Project. She is now pursuing a master’s degree at UMSL thanks to a Davidson & Christoph fellowship from CCSD and a Christensen fellowship from the Harris Center at UMSL. She will be studying how species traits in flowers, leaves and wood determine their rarity in Andean forests. William recently graduated with a Ph.D. from Wake Forest University, where he studied how climate change affects forests in Peru. As a postdoctoral fellow funded by the Living Earth Collaborative, William will collaborate with Jonathan A. Myers and J. Sebastian Tello to expand his research and study the responses of species and ecosystems to environmental change across the tropical Andes, a major biodiversity hotspot.

 CCSD members presented at SLEEC 2019

Brigette William (PhD student at SLU), Serena Acha (PhD student at UMSL), Stephen  Murphy (PostDoc) and Burgund Bassuner (Science Specialist) participated and presented at the St. Louis Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (SLEEC) at the Louis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL, September 21, 2019.


REU Students at CCSD







Mahala Lorenzo (M. Albrecht, L. Reed), Amy Ann (I Jimenez), and Dorrie Wamser (Christy Edwards) were our 2019 REU students.

Thesis Defense and Welcome at CCSD, 2019


Alex Linan defended his PhD thesis at st. Louis University April 23, 2019.
He was co-advised by Dr. Christy Edwards (MBG) and Dr. Allison Miller (SLU). Alex started to work as a post-doc with Dr. Christy Edward and Dr. Sebastian Tello at CCSD on the Madidi Project at the beginning of August.

Star Award
We congratulate Matthew Albrecht, who received this year's prestigious Star Award at the Center for Plant Conservation National Meeting in Chicago, May 3, 2019


 Cities as "arks" for biodiversity

 Adam Smith, our Global Change ecologist, was interviewed by a reporter for an article on using cities as “arks” for biodiversity. 

Grand from National Geographic


Ivan Jimenez received a grant from National Geographic to support a study of how species of Espeletia, a genus endemic to the northern Andes, respond to global change. An interesting aspect of this project is that it uses anthropogenic impacts to the conservation of high elevation environments. Ivan and his collaborators, César A. Marín, from Jardín Botánico de Bogotá José Celestino Mutis and Carlos Arturo Lora, from Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia will use satellite data and field observations to conduct the study. 

 Grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)

CCSD’s conservation genetics lab got funding approved for a new project with the title
“The effect of genetic diversity on fecundity in Mead’s milkweed (Asclepias meadii)”.
Christy Edwards and Matthew Albrecht are leading the project in collaboration with the Mead’s milkweed recovery team including MDC Resource Science Division, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Missouri Department of Natural Resources, United States Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Missouri Prairie Foundation, Kansas Biological Survey, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Natural History Survey, and other agency biologists that manage Mead’s milkweed populations. A technician will be hired at the beginning of 2018 to manage the elaborative field work and genetic analysis of the plants.