Archive for January, 2016

Watch an NYBG Scientist Create a PCR, IRL

Posted in Cool Scientist Tech, Videos and Lectures on January 21st, 2016 by Lansing Moore – Be the first to comment

Science IRLHere at NYBG we strive to bring the world of botanical science to the public, so we were thrilled to welcome brand-new web series Science IRL to shoot a video and offer viewers a glimpse into the daily work of NYBG scientists. Our own Gregory M. Plunkett, Ph.D., Director and Curator of the Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics, leads host Molly Edwards through the steps of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a fundamental part of our ongoing work in molecular science. As Dr. Plunkett and other scientists here at NYBG continue exploring the world’s biodiversity, identifying new species and examining how they are related to others, a PCR is a process that allows them to isolate a specific piece of DNA and create millions of copies.

Further explanation can be found in this video, which follows each step of a PCR. Watch below, and check out Science IRL’s other videos in the series on YouTube!

UPDATE: Part 2 of this episode is now live! Click through to see a phylogenetic tree generated from the DNA sample.

Myanmar by the Numbers

Posted in Travelogue on January 11th, 2016 by Kate Armstrong – Be the first to comment

Kate Armstrong, Ph.D., is Myanmar Program Coordinator in the New York Botanical Garden’s Institute of Systematic Botany. Damon P. Little, Ph.D., is Associate Curator of Bioinformatics in the Botanical Garden’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics.


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Myanmar is a major biodiversity hotspot, yet its flora is probably the least studied in the Northern Hemisphere. As the country emerges from decades of isolation and political upheaval, The New York Botanical Garden is working to document Myanmar’s undiscovered plant life, build the country’s capacity to carry out plant research, and promote the sustainable use of its forests.

We recently returned from a collecting expedition to Hkakaborazi National Park in Kachin State, which borders China. The park, in the far northern part of the country, covers nearly 1,500 square miles of mountainous forest.

To reach it, we first flew to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. From there, we took a turboprop to Putao, the northernmost town in Kachin State, and then motorcycles to a small village. After that, we walked.
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