Event Details

"Plants in the Past: Fossils and the Future"

Present-day plant diversity is remarkably rich and varied, but the vast majority of plant species to have ever lived are now extinct. Knowledge of the past is key to understanding the origins of today’s plant diversity and to illuminating the fundamental evolutionary processes that generate biodiversity. The study of prehistoric floras (the fields of paleobotany and paleoecology) also provides key evidence for subjects such as paleozoology, the formation of the Earth’s atmosphere, and climate change.

The 16th Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, hosted by the Department of Botany and the United States Botanic Garden, will explore plants in the past, from their early origins to the more recent rise of the angiosperms. Speakers will address current trends and the future of paleobotanical research. The Symposium coincides with the development of the Natural History Museum’s Deep Time exhibit, a major overhaul of the National Fossil Hall, which is scheduled to open to the public in June 2019.

NOTE: Unlike previous years, the Symposium presentations will take place in the Warner Bros. Theater in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Friday, May 18
Morning Session
NMAH Warner Bros. Theater
9:00 a.m. Registration (Constitution Avenue lobby, National Museum of American History)
9:30 a.m. Opening Remarks, Kirk Johnson, Sant Director, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and Laurence J. Dorr, Chair of Botany, Smithsonian Institution. Presentation of the José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany, Kenneth J. Wurdack, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution

10:00 a.m. Sir Peter Crane, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, “The enigmatic ‘Mesozoic seed ferns’”

10:45 a.m. Coffee break, Jazz Café

11:15 a.m. Andrew Leslie, Brown University, “Biotic seed dispersal, growth architecture, and the evolution of conifer cone diversity”
12:00 p.m. Jonathan Wilson, Haverford College, “Ecophysiology of extinct plants”

12:45 p.m. Lunch break - on your own

Afternoon Session
NMAH Warner Bros. Theater
2:00 p.m. Surangi Punyasena, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Laying the foundations for automated pollen analysis”
2:45 p.m. Selena Y. Smith, University of Michigan, “Plant paleobiology in the digital era: How X-ray microCT is helping to shed light on the history of plants”

3:30 p.m. Coffee break, Jazz Café

4:00 p.m. Mónica Ramírez-Carvalho, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, “Late Cretaceous floras from northern South America and the evolution of Neotropical rainforests”
4:45 p.m. Susana Magallón, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, “The different roles of fossils for time-calibrating phylogenies”

Evening Events
The United States Botanic Garden Conservatory
6:30 p.m. Reception and poster session, United States Botanic Garden, Washington, DC.


Two types of tickets available:
"General Admission + Evening Reception": access to both events
"General Admission": access to the talks only

If you cannot attend the evening reception, please select "General Admission".

Further details available at http://botany.si.edu/sbs/

  • When: Fri May. 18
    9:00 am - 8:30 pm

  • Address: 1300 Constitution Avenue Northwest
    Washington DC,US 20560

  • Web: Visit Website