The study of botany is critical to many sustainability issues facing our planet, including the conservation of biodiversity, food production to support a growing population, and the impacts of climate and other environmental changes. Professors in the Department of Botany work closely with students in courses and on research projects outside of the classroom to address key issues linking plants, society and the environment, including:
- Development and promotion of sustainable agricultural practices
- Impacts of climate change on organisms, landscapes and ecosystems
- Study and preservation of indigenous plant uses
- Reconstructing past environments using plant remains
- Assessing biofuels as alternative energy sources
- Impacts of genetically modified crops
- Management and restoration of native plant and aquatic communities
The botany department offers exceptional facilities to support teaching and research in plant science. A 750-acre living laboratory, the Connecticut College Arboretum comprises over 500 species of woody plants, an extensive native plant collection, a wildflower garden, and over 200 acres of undisturbed natural areas. The arboretum is regularly used by the botany department in coursework and research, including an ongoing 65-year study of forest development. A 3,000-square-foot greenhouse houses a tropical room, cactus and carnivorous plant collections, and sophisticated climate control to support cutting-edge research. An herbarium with over 15,000 curated plant specimens is used to investigate the distribution of plant species as well as to teach plant identification skills. Students work one-on-one with faculty to conduct research on-site and in the field during the academic year and summer. They use state-of-the-art instrumentation, including light, fluorescence and electron microscopes, a flow-through dynamic imager for particle analysis, and tissue culture facilities for sterile plant propagation.
Botany faculty include experts in plant ecology, the relationship of indigenous people to the natural world, carnivorous plants, tree growth and physiology, algae, and aquatic science. Interdisciplinary connections with the Environmental Studies Program, Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, Art, and other departments give students opportunities to apply their foundation in the natural sciences to other disciplines. Interactions with local community organizations related to conservation and sustainable agriculture provide even more opportunities for hands-on experience in plant science for our students.
Our graduates have gone on to careers in teaching, research, ecosystem conservation, landscape design and architecture and even the manufacture of natural foods.