Presidents Message

Gail Wagner

March 12, 2013

Greetings to you all!

The 54th annual meeting of the Society for Economic Botany will gather June 28th through July 2nd, 2013, at Plymouth University in Plymouth, England (southwestern). The conference includes an invited symposium as well as contributed papers, posters, and workshops. Sir Ghillean Prance will open the invited symposium, “What is Our Message – And Are We Getting it Across?”. The conference will begin with optional pre-conference field trips on Thursday and Friday, June 27-28. The Council meeting is on Friday, June 28th. Paper and symposium presentations begin on Saturday, June 29th and continue through Tuesday, July 2nd. This year the conference features an included mid-conference all-day field trip to nearby Eden Project (http://www.edenproject.com/) on Monday, July 1st. To promote more active participation and interaction during the conference, hands-on workshops, discussions, or in-town mini-trips will be available on several afternoons.

Please take a few moments to complete your meeting Registration and housing for Economic Botany 2013. Our paper/poster submissions will be closing April 1, so please take a moment and get your work in. We want to hear what you've been up to in Plymouth.

Once you've booked youfr flight, First Great Western (train from London) is offering us reduced return ticket rates in getting to/from our Plymouth event.

I look forward to seeing you all this summer in England!


August 23, 2012

Greetings to you all!

With the conclusion of our 2012 annual conference in Frostburg, Maryland, and the beginning of a new year, I’d like to summarize the state of our Society. The Society for Economic Botany is truly an international society, with over half our membership living outside the United States. The 202 attendees at the 2012 conference represented 33 states and 14 countries. Although we need to be always assessing the goals of our society and the needs of our members, I take it as a healthy sign that fully 38% of the attendees were students. Such a high percentage of emerging professionals speaks to our long-standing policy of encouraging students, and this welcoming attitude is not only something I experienced as a student member in the 1970s, but the collegiality among our membership was what most attracted me to the Society.   Although I can’t give you actual numbers, in retrospect it seems to me that back in the 1970s, students constituted perhaps 15% of the attendees at conferences. This year the Open Science Network instituted a mentor-mentee program to help guide first-time student participation in the conference, and this is a practice that we hope to continue and expand in the years to come.     

Our 53rd annual conference at Frostburg State University was memorable in many ways, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to the organizers and participating institutions for including so many nice touches, ranging from shuttle service from the far-distant airport, to the screening of riveting Appalshop films, to the showcasing of Appalachian artists and products, and a public presentation at Allegany College by former President and DEB Dr. W. Hardy Eshbaugh. We enjoyed a featured symposium on Appalachian Mountain Cultures and a panel on European Mountain Ethnobiology. Altogether 87 papers and 36 posters were presented, along with three panels and six workshops. Social media and updated conference pictures made available on the web helped bring the conference to those who couldn’t physically attend. The Society honored Dr. Djaja Djendoel Soejarto (a member of the Society for over 40 years) as the 2012 Distinguished Economic Botanist. It was a special treat when members of his family were able to attend the banquet and enjoy his autobiographical address to the Society. Something new this year was “Teaching Tuesday,” one entire day devoted to talks and workshops on teaching. The Open Science Network presented its draft statement, “Vision and Change for Ethnobiology,” modeled after the 2009 AAAS Vision & Change statement for undergraduate American science education. In the afternoon, conference attendees chose to attend any three of four hands-on workshops modeling teaching standards.     

Our conference in 2013 will be held at the University of Plymouth in England from June 28-July 3, beginning with field trips. We hope to continue expanding our conference program to include hands-on workshops and other venues beyond oral presentations and posters, so mark the conference on your calendar and plan to attend! Save your conference canvas bag from this year – recycle for next year!     

The Society is in good financial standing, and the impact factor of our journal Economic Botany continues to rise. The Society has adopted the Open Science Network (http://www.opensciencenetwork.net) as one of its education initiatives, one that hopefully will be shared with other professional societies. We continue to see the initiation of new chapters in countries around the world (note seven linked on our web page), and these chapters provide an affordable venue for the exchange of ideas and collegial support among Society members. Before the conclusion of the conference, the Society launched its new web page, so I hope you’ll take a moment to look it over and provide us your feedback.     

The Society for Economic Botany is what its members make of it, so I encourage you to get involved: volunteer for a committee, submit news and notices to the newsletter, make suggestions for what you’d like to see at the conference, support student and gift memberships, and generally make yourself heard!

Collegially yours,

Gail E. Wagner
President, Society for Economic Botany