Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany

 

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

June 6 – August 12, 2022

Application period is now closed

Missouri Botanical Garden is pleased to announce the opening of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program that will provide research opportunities for 10 students, for 10 weeks during the summer of 2022. Students will work on independent mentored projects in plant systematics, conservation biology, and ethnobotany. Participants will have access to the Garden’s herbarium of more than 7 million specimens, an excellent botanical library, rich garden collections, a laboratory facilities for plant anatomy, microscopy, digital imaging, SEM, and DNA analysis, and the Shaw Nature Reserve – a 2,400 acre ecological preserve featuring prairie, forest, glades, wetlands, and 14 miles of hiking trails.

 

Mentors and Projects

Students will work closely with a Ph.D. mentor from the Missouri Botanical Garden on an independent research project. Projects available in 2022 involve subjects including taxonomy (especially of plants from biodiverse tropical regions), restoration ecology, conservation biology, plant morphology, and emerging crops. Students will be trained in all aspects of research, including project design, background research using library and electronic resources, methods, data collection and analysis, and presentation of results in a poster, public research symposium, and possibly a published paper. Learn more

COVID guidelines and changes to online only

At this time, the REU coordinators are optimistic that the Garden will permit an onsite program to be held in summer 2022, but we cannot yet know the circumstances that will apply. Students will be expected to agree to comply with all public health measures and risk-reducing behaviors that may be required by city or state authorities or by the Garden, and strongly encouraged to adopt any that are not mandatory. In compliance with the Garden’s current health and safety guidelines, we are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for all in-person internships. As is always the case, the REU program cannot provide Garden visitors with health insurance, so students should be prepared to be responsible for seeking health care should they become ill during the program.

We are making contingency plans to offer an online, virtual program in case circumstances should force the cancellation of the onsite program. All of the projects being offered for 2022 could be converted to projects that could be worked on remotely, and meetings with mentors, educational sessions, and group social activities would be done virtually. In that event, we would request that NSF provide computer and internet services for anyone who did not already have adequate web access at home. However, at this time we consider it likely that an onsite program will be feasible, and encourage everyone to do their part to make it possible by mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing.

Additional Training

Students will also participate in professional enrichment sessions dedicated to a variety of topics, including improving writing skills, ethics in research, intellectual property rights, getting into graduate school, taking the GRE exam, graduate school options, conservation, and sustainable living. Students will participate in weekly Lunch and Learn sessions in which these subjects will be discussed. Students will also participate in field trips to local natural areas and cultural attractions. The REU program will be integrated with other ongoing MBG programs involving herbarium and garden support staff, high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, professional botanists, educators, and visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Heaps of Seeds (K–2—September and October only!)

Grades K–2
September–October
Duration: 2 hours

Download pre-visit lesson.
Download post-visit home connection.

Download Class Overview

  Dandelion seed headFrom acorns to zinnia seeds, the beginnings of a plant are found in an amazing diversity of shapes and sizes. Students will discover that stored inside every seed are all the parts of a plant. They will explore the Garden in search of seeds that travel by wind, water and wildlife. Each student will plant basil seeds to take home and observe.

A Seasonal Snapshot (K–2)

Grades K–2
September–December & February–May
Duration: 2 hours

Download pre-visit lesson.
Download post-visit home connection.
Download Class Overview

  Apples on treeWhat season is it? How do you know? Through seasonal storyboards, students will observe the life cycle of an apple tree. Out in the Garden, students will practice their observation skills as they compare and contrast the current season with other times of year. Each student will plant seeds of the sensitive plant to take home.

Tops & Bottoms (K–2)

Grades K–2
September–December, February–May
Duration: 2 hours

Download pre-visit lesson.
Download post-visit home connection.
Download Class Overview

  OnionsWhat do we grow in the Garden? Tops, bottoms and middles! In this class, based on Janet Stevens’ book Tops & Bottoms, students identify and compare the physical structures of edible plants. Students will learn about the variety of plant parts we eat during their visit through the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening, viewing fruits and vegetables growing. Each student will plant seeds from an edible plant to take home.

Rainforest Rendezvous (3–5)

Grades 3–5
September–December & February–May
Duration: 2 hours

Download pre-visit lesson.
Download post-visit home connection.
Download Class Overview

  Plants inside Climatron
Escape to the Climatron® to learn how plants cope with over 80 inches of rain each year and compete for light in a dense forest. Giant leaves, climbing vines and epiphytes are just a few of the features of the rainforest your students will observe as they research the ways in which this productive biome is unique and important. They’ll become knowledgeable about rainforest products. Each student will plant a tropical house plant to take home.

Foodology (3–5)

Grades 3–5
September–December & February–May

Duration: 2 hours


Download Class Overview

  VegetablesHow much of our food can be traced to plants? All of it! In this class, students will explore the history and science of agriculture and food production. Along the way, they'll learn about the origins of our familiar food plants, contributions made by scientists like George Washington Carver, and ecological considerations like pollination and soil ecology.

Botanical Engineering (3–12)

Grades 312
September–December and February
May
Duration: 2 hours

Download Class Overview

  ClimatronSurvival for plants often means finding innovative ways to overcome challenges in the environment! In this fascinating class, we'll first explore the adaptations that plants have devised that enable them to survive in some of our planet's most extremeenvironments. Then we'll venture into the Garden for a look at the solutions humans have devised to replicate these environments so that these plants can survive in St. Louis.

MULTIDISCIPLINARY: Asian Gardens: Science and Culture (6–8)

Grades 6–8
September–December & February–May Duration: 2.5 Hours

Download pre-visit lesson.
Download post-visit home connection.
Download GLEs.

 Please call 314-577-5815 to register for this program.

  Bridge in Chinese GardenExplore Far East Asia in this integrated curriculum course! Students will discuss similarities and differences between the Chinese and Japanese cultures. As they visit the Margaret Grigg Nanjing Friendship Garden (Chinese Garden) and Seiwa-en (Japanese Garden), they will grasp the underlying philosophies that influenced each Garden’s design and the traditions surrounding them. Connections to ecology surface as they stop by the koi or moss garden. They will try their hand at an abacus, and make additional connections across Social Studies, Fine Arts and Literacy. Students will assemble a Zen ‘Dry Garden’ to take home.

Lessons in our China Educator's Guide complement this class.

PLANTLAB: Botany and Biodiversity (3–8)

Grades 3–8
September–December & February–May

Capacity: 30 students

Duration: 50 minutes

Please call 314-577-5185 to register for this program.

  SurvivorCarl Linneaus once said, “If the names are unknown,
knowledge...also perishes.” Since 1859, the Missouri
Botanical Garden has served as a world leader in the fundamental science of discovering, classifying, and naming plant species from all around the world. This hands–on session will provide students with a taste of the real world work our researchers do, from collection
and classification to identification and nomenclature.

PLANTLAB: Ecology and Engineering (3–8)

Grades 3–8
September–October & March–May

Capacity: 30 students

Duration: 1 hour

Please call 314-577-5185 to register for this program.

  Bee on clover blossomAn understanding the interconnectedness of the natural world is vital if we are going to tackle big challenges like climate change and conservation. In this class, students will explore the interdependence between flowering plants and their pollinators, underscoring how this simple relationship affects not just the organisms involved, but the ecology of their local habitats and human quality of life.

PLANTLAB: Plants and People (3–8)

Grades 38
September–December
Duration: 2 hours

Capacity: 30 students

Please call 314-577-5185 to register for this program.

  Students sawing woodPlants provide humankind with our most basic resources—food, medicines, fiber, building materials, and a range of other economically valuable products and essential services. This hands-on program gives students an opportunity to explore of the traditional uses of plants as well as glimpse some of the ways in which plants can be used in the future to address environmental and economic concerns.

Contact

For information not covered by the website (reu@mobot.org

MBG Mission "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life"

Eligibility

Students must be returning to an undergraduate degree program in the fall following the REU program. If you will be graduating in May or June in the year of the program, you are not eligible. To be eligible you must also be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.

Benefits

REU interns receive food and lodging assistance, support for research, and a weekly $600 stipend.