Selby Gardens Awarding Six New College Students Inaugural Research Prizes

March 27, 2017

The students will give a public presentation on April 20 at noon.


Pen and ink botanical illustration by Emily Bleske.

SARASOTA, FLA. – March 27, 2017: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will present six New College of Florida students research and support funds at the close of the students’ 2017 research projects conducted at the institution. The prizes are awarded by the gardens on behalf of a private donor. As part of the program between New College and Selby Gardens, each student will give a 10-minute presentation on their work conducted with Gardens’ staff earlier this year. The presentations are on April 20 and are open to the public.

“The enthusiasm shown by the students and amount of work they completed impressed our professional staff,” said Bruce Holst, director of botany at Selby Gardens, who oversaw five of the students’ work. “I’m encouraged about how this partnership can bring the next generation into plant research, and how these students can add new ideas to the field.”

Last fall, Selby Gardens announced a collaboration between the Gardens and New College of Florida. The opportunity for college students to work with Selby Gardens professional staff on plant science, conservation and public outreach also included the establishment of the $25,000 annual Calusa Prize, which is awarded by Selby Gardens via an anonymous donor to students in degree programs at New College. Eligible students must have a focus of study in the areas of horticulture or botany, public garden management, research, collection management, preservation, education, conservation or documentation, including art and photography.

As the partnership quickly took off in January of this year, six students began Independent Study Projects or internships with Selby Gardens. The students and their projects were:

  • Emily Bleske: Botanical illustration of a plant species being described for science.
  • Cassandra Detrio-Darby: Contributions to a field guide on the ferns of Belize
  • Elena Meyer: Field guide to the fern genus Elaphoglossum of Belize
  • Iliana Moore: Evaluation of a pathogenic fungus in the control of the Mexican bromeliad weevil; and establishment of an epiphyte phenology network.
  • Kaylynn Low: Evaluation of the potential of spread of exotic fruit trees into Florida ecosystems.
  • Julia Pope: Exhibit curation in the Museum of Botany and the Arts.

The Calusa Prize will be awarded annually to multiple New College students who complete an internship with Selby Gardens. Projects will help further the mission of the Gardens and also ensure new generations of scientists are engaged with plant conservation and education.

Selby Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the research, study and conservation of epiphytes, or plants that grow on other plants without harming them, such as orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns. Per acre, Selby Gardens is the most species-rich botanical garden in North America, if not the world. Selby Gardens has the second largest spirit [or “liquid-preserved”] collection of flowering plants following only the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It also has the third largest collection of preserved bromeliad plants and the fourth largest collection of preserved orchid plants in the U.S. as part of its herbarium.

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About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas. Regular admission is $20 and $10 children ages 4-17; members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens.


Tags: botany, calusa prize, higher education, intern, marie selby botanical gardens, new college, new college of florida, selby gardens