Soltis to speak on importance of plant biodiversity

Healthy plant life = healthy world

The critical role played by flowering plants may not be obvious, but they hold clues to the evolutionary history of our planet; provide sources of food, medicine, and shelter to humans; and serve as food and habitat for many other organisms. Pamela Soltis, Ph.D., a distinguished scholar in angiosperms (flowering plants), will discuss the importance of “Conservation Genetics and the Preservation of Plant Biodiversity” for an Assembly Series program 2 p.m. Friday, March 28, in Steinberg Hall.

Soltis will be on campus as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, sponsored by the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences. Co-sponsors are the Washington University chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honoraries. The talk is free and open to the public.

Soltis is curator of the Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolutionary Genetics at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. She is also instrumental in reconstructing the plant branch of the Tree of Life Web project. This collaborative effort of biologists from around the world provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their evolutionary history and characteristics.

Active in her profession, Soltis is the president of the Botanical Society of America, and the former president of the Society of Systematic Biologists.

She has served on the councils of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the American Genetics Association. Among her honors are the Centennial Award from the Botanical Society, a Mellon Faculty Fellowship, a Fulbright Distinguished Professor Award and a Research Professorship from the University of Florida Research Foundation.

Soltis earned a bachelor’s degree from Central College, and a master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas.

For more information on this program, visit the Assembly Series Web page at, or call 314-935-4620.