Food For Thought: 21st Century Perspectives on Ethnobotany

This event is hosted by the Departments of Botany and Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the United States Botanic Garden and supported by the Cuatrecasas Family Foundation.

The Ninth Annual Smithsonian Botanical Symposium

September 24-25, 2010, Washington, DC

People are dependent upon plants for food, clothing, medicine, fuel and other necessities of life. Humans and plants have interacted for as long as humans have existed, but our relationship is not static. Since the advent of agriculture we have exerted evolutionary pressure on plants that are of importance to us. Indigenous and industrialized societies have interacted with plants in their environments and influenced not only crop plants, but also cultural landscapes. The Symposium will examine the 21st century transformation of the study of interactions between plants and people. The invited speakers will cover a wide range of topics: from the role molecular biology now has in elucidating crop domestication to the ways in which peoples across myriad ecosystems interact with specific plants and landscapes.


Ruth Defries, Columbia University
Kenneth M. Olsen, Washington University St. Louis
Eve Emshwiller, University of Wisconsin
Torben Rick, National Museum of Natural History
Cameron L. McNeil, Lehman College, The City University of New York
Julie Velásquez Runk, University of Georgia
Allison Miller, St. Louis University

Friday, September 24
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm Opening Reception, The United States Botanic Garden

Saturday, September 25
8:30 am – 5:45 pm Lectures and Discussion, Baird Auditorium, NMNH
5:45 pm – 8:30 pm Reception and Dinner, Museum Rotunda, NMNH

For information and registration go to

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