Selby Gardens Welcomes New Research Botanist

May 9, 2017

Appointment expands the Gardens’ focus on fern families


SARASOTA, Fla., MAY 9, 2017 – Selby Gardens welcomes its newest professional botanist this month, expanding the institution’s study of the fern plant group.

Selby Gardens is the world’s only botanical garden that studies epiphytes, or plants that grow on other plants without harming them. Typically, orchids and bromeliads are the stars of the Gardens’ research focus, but with the addition of Dr. Sally Chambers, ferns, with approximately 30% of species worldwide being epiphytic, will receive increased attention.

Sally Chambers, Ph.D., a fern researcher, has joined the botany department at Selby Gardens.

“Sally’s expertise, plus her enthusiasm for our scientific mission propelled her in our search to fill this position,” said Bruce Holst, director of botany for Selby Gardens. “She brings a new set of skills with her that will be important in studying plant genetics and how scientists can combine the knowledge of where plants currently grow to predict how their distributions will shift in response to changing climate and weather patterns to ensure they don’t go extinct.”

Chambers’ research work will apply to all of the plants Selby Gardens studies, not just ferns. This will be especially important, Holst said, as Selby Gardens expands its research work throughout south Florida and the Caribbean. Her research on ferns rounds out the botany department’s key areas of plant study; Dr. Antonio Toscano de Brito is an internationally-recognized scholar on the study of orchids and one of Holst’s specialties is the study of bromeliads from the Lost World region of northern South America.

Chambers most recently held the position of postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida. She holds a PhD in plant ecology and evolutionary biology from Purdue University and completed her undergraduate work in natural resource and conservation management at the University of Kentucky. Chambers’ botanical garden experience includes an internship in the Horticulture Department at Missouri Botanical Garden.

Since opening to the public in 1975, Selby Gardens has been internationally recognized for its focus as the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display of epiphytes. Selby Gardens’ staff regularly travels throughout the American Tropics to conduct field research on plant diversity and distributions, which is key to conserving habitats and species in nature.

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About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns and other tropical plants with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. 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: botanical study, botany, epiphytes, epiphytic fern, ferns, research, scientific research