Undergraduate students travelled to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden for a plant systematics and evolutionary biology workshop August 10 through 20, 2016.
The workshop offered students a hands-on plant science learning opportunity—from collecting and making plant specimens to DNA extraction to working with the scanning electron microscope to analyzing the data that result from such a project.
Over the years, students have come from colleges and universities in Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas, Texas and Southern California, as well as international students from Namibia, Mexico and Venezuela. Professors Lucinda McDade and J. Mark Porter led this year’s workshop and Manuel Lujan, CGU doctoral candidate, served as the teaching assistant.
The intensive 10-day workshop focused on the types of research questions and methods used in reconstructing evolutionary relationships in plants. Topics covered included: DNA extraction and sequencing methods, scanning electron microscopy, anatomy and morphology, field collection techniques and herbarium curation. Participants learned to use Internet tools (e.g., GenBank) and software packages to gather, process and analyze phylogenetic data.
These yearly workshops are made possible through funding provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation.