Scott Stewart, Clemson, Lane Chapman discussed on In Defense of Plants Podcast


And for two years, I worked at Fermi as a visiting professor sabbatical replacement. Nice. Yeah. And I wrote the dean of Clemson after that and said I really appreciate the fact that you allowed me to come to Clemson even on probation and I just want to let you know that I got through and that not everybody takes standardized tests very well. So I never forgot doing that. Since then, I come in closer to home. I was in my office at Furman waiting to hear some job interviews and traveling. And we'll wait one night at about 9 30 at night. The phone rang, and I said, who is this time? And I picked it up and it was doctor lane Chapman in Illinois college. And she invited me for an interview and she said, we have your CD and we'd like to interview. That was very surprised that anyone would be calling me that late at night. Normally, and around. But I accepted that and the rest became history. It's kind of interesting that I came here with an older science building. There was no air conditioning in my office. It was 95° in the summer. Sculptures I took with me were in Tupperware containers. Wow. And I had no research lab. And so that was the birth of the orchid recovery program as infancy here. Wow. About four years later, we built a lovely science building here. I met my wife. Here she was a Professor of psychology, Elizabeth, and now we have a daughter, Audrey, who's now in college. And yeah, so it's really lovely setting here. One of the people I'd like to single out here that had a huge role in this formation is orchid recovery is Scott Stewart my student at the time here. He was an English major, and I contaminated his thought pattern. He became a biology major. He worked. He did some seed germination with C termination with the eastern periphery and it worked. And he had four publications that he co authored before he graduated. Wow. And doctor Mike Cain and university of Florida offered him a position in his lab to work on a PhD and he accepted, and so Scott Stewart went to work with doctor Kane and Gainesville. And now Scott is an executive director of the millennium park foundation in Chicago. So he's still connected to plants and it's fantastic that he's out there. Something right behind me in this interview here, the Zoom meeting. The phone rang in 2012. And there was a gentleman on the other line who had a British accent. And that was doctor this bar and Saracen. He was from the royal Botanic gardens queue in London and he invited me to be part of the team of researchers to go to Madagascar. And so I worked on a research project with them for 5 years and that one. Yeah, so I was there twice, and I was we were encouraged not to go there to collect samples because it was too far in the orchid fungi wouldn't make it, but we did anyway. It was a risk. And we got some really interesting fungi for markets in Madagascar. And currently my current projects I'm working in research and Ecuador and Cuba and also in Palau, which is in collaboration with the Smithsonian's environmental research center working with doctor Benjamin crane, doctor Dennis wiggum and doctor Melissa McCormick at CERC. Some of you I think on your podcast, you've heard about the North American orchid conservation center or neon. Yep, big supporter of them. Yeah, doctor wiggin founded that. And we're looking to make it continue after his retirement. And that's something we're up to. Right now, my big project on my desk, I have a lot of things to my right here. I have a lot of books and things and co authoring a book with Philip seton in the UK. He's a well-known organist on seeds and see germination. And the book is we think we're going to title it saving orchids in a warming world. And we're shooting for a deadline early summer and everything's going according to plan. So that's exciting. Yeah. Yeah, I'm very happy that I was offered to a research associate position at Chicago but Dana garden. So I'm working with Chicago on research and I'm continuing to teach here at all on college. So sorry to be a little no. But that's kind of my background. That's fantastic. I love those stories. And there's so many angles of just serendipity passion. A lot of things people will empathize with introversion, not really doing well with people but doing well with the natural world. That was me to a tee up until relatively recently in life. And you know, I barely got through the GREs. I suck at standardized tests. So there's things I think are gonna resonate and it's wonderful to see someone that's had such a successful career that's driven by passion and interest and following those threads to their wherever they lead you, but to really do it in a way that benefits the nature that you love so much and orchids especially. And what I love most in admire most about your work is that melding of these two worlds that are often treated as separate botany and mycology, but the recognition of just how important they are together. And when it comes to orchids, they are poster children for the importance of symbioses and the relationships between two different kingdoms of life. And so for those listening that aren't as familiar with orchids as some of us, why is this relationship between fungi and orchids so important? What's going on there? Yeah. Well, we have to go back over a 100 million years for that. It's first appeared. That's what most people think is somewhere in Asia, terrestrial orchids, a group of them with fleshy berries, perhaps by bipedal dinosaurs, maybe. That's not, you know, that's just speculation. But exciting. They came about as terrestrials we think and went into the trees and went with their seed dispersal mechanisms went off and conquered the world, except for a very slick cold places like Antarctica. But the fungus is, let's not kid ourselves here. When we see an orchid, first of all, we're walking across the landscape and we're walking underneath our feet are another world microbes fungi, springtail insects. You name it. And we often forget that, but when we see an orchid in bloom, it's obviously captivating most of the time of Sorkin's gorgeous indifferent. There never seems to be really common, but they're the first to disappear. So when you see them now and you don't see them in a few years, there's something wrong with the environment. And one of the reasons we think that is, is because they have this very close intimate symbiosis with fungi and they also need insects. But orchids, I want everyone out there listening to understand and let's be clear, they're not the innocent plants that you might think. They are master manipulators. Nice. Manipulate us for our because we like to grow them and we often kill them and they take our money. So everyone knows that. I think they manipulate insects to a large extent. Some of them don't even offer a nectar reward for the.

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