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SEB Student Council

Annie Virnig

Annie Virnig
Co-Student Representative to the SEB Council 2013-2015
avirnig@nybg.org
I am interested in the ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and gene expression of several species of Neotropical blueberries (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae) collected and cultivated in Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Queremal, a small village in this region, is named for these wild blueberries, or “queremes,” whose beautiful flowers are widely known and are used for both medicinal and cultural purposes. I am a second year student in The New York Botanical Garden’s Graduate Studies Program and the Plant Sciences Doctoral Program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

John de la Parra

John de la Parra
Co-Student Representative to the SEB Council 2014-2016
delaparra.j@husky.neu.edu
I first became curious about medicinal plants while growing up on a small farm in Alabama. I am currently a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. My interest is in the investigation of the scientific foundations of traditional phytotherapies. To that end, my research involves the phytochemistry, pharmacognosy, and enhanced production of medicinal compounds from plant tissue cultures. In the years before I returned to graduate school, I founded Vine Research and Consulting where I have helped investigate, collect, cultivate, and verify rare and unusual plant material for use in novel pharmaceutical research in both industry and academia. For several years, I taught college chemistry to nursing and pre-med students as well as a course I developed entitled “Medicinal Plants: From the Sacred to the Scientific”. 

Alexander ONeill

Alexander O’Neill
Student Council Member 2013-2015
aro32@georgetown.edu
Alexander O'Neill is a Georgetown University undergraduate double majoring in Environmental Biology and Anthropology. Hailing from Washington, D.C., Alex has had the unique opportunity to work with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Smithsonian Institution (The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions), the United States Park Service, and Northern Indian-based NGOs on a variety of research projects. Specifically, Alex has helped database historical plant-medical texts, raise endangered American Shad, and document the traditional medicines of Rajasthani doctors. Alex was recently awarded the David L. Boren Scholarship for year-long Nepali language study at Tribhuvan University (Kathmandu, Nepal). In Nepal, he will also be collaborating with Cornell University to conserve medicinal plant biodiversity.

Sarina Veldman

Sarina Veldman
Student Council Member 2013-2015
sarina.veldman@ebc.uu.se
My name is Sarina Veldman, I am a first year PhD-student at Uppsala University in Sweden. I am working on DNA barcoding of medicinal plants and edible orchids in Tanzania. The aim of my project is to map harvesting and trade of these mostly wild-harvested plants and to identify which plant populations are susceptible to overharvesting.

Alexandra Towns

Mélanie Congretel
Student Council Member 2013-2015
melanie.congretel@gmail.com
Born in Western France in 1988, I grew up in the countryside, not far from the ocean, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and many farms. I was first trained in biology before entering the Paris Institute for Life Sciences (AgroParisTech) in 2008, where I specialized in ecology and in the management of natural resources. After a year off I studied butterflies’ behavior, worked for the Cape Cod National Seashore (MA, USA) and joined the French Museum of Natural History where I completed a Master’s of Ethnoecology, mostly dedicating myself to ethnobotany, local knowledge and agroecology at the scientific station of Nouragues in French Guiana. My Master’s thesis took place in Jalisco, Mexico where I studied non timber forest products within mestizo communities. I just started an interdisciplinary PhD at the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences, researching family guarana production in the Brazilian Amazon.

 

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