Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Awarded Prestigious Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services



Thanks to a grant of $133,025 from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Selby Gardens’ Center for Tropical Plant Sciences and Conservation jumps into the 21st Century with the establishment of its new Molecular Research Program. This new program, a two-year start-up project, will provide Selby scientists with cutting-edge resources needed to conduct plant identification, classification and conservation research.

Dr. John R. Clark, Head of Molecular Programs and Director of the Gesneriad Research Center at Selby Gardens says, “Molecular research capabilities, using DNA to understand the relationships between organisms, allows us to address critical questions about plant evolution and conservation, questions that concern the identity and origin of the plants we study. Think of it as CSI meets Selby Gardens where botanists, instead of forensic scientists, use DNA to identify and ultimately conserve plants.”

Epiphytes are a diverse group of plants that live on other plants and warrant continued research based on their high scientific and economic importance. Dr. Clark and other Selby scientists will conduct molecular-based studies on the plant families Gesneriaceae and Orchidaceae, two focal research plant groups at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. These research projects will address relevant questions in epiphyte diversification and conservation, and utilize molecular-based methods in conjunction with traditional techniques to answer them.

Bruce Holst, Director of Research at Selby Gardens, states, “The new Molecular Program is vital to Selby Gardens’ ongoing commitment to science and conservation. This grant and the projects it supports are a major step forward in achieving Selby Gardens’ goal of being the leading institution for advancing the scientific understanding of epiphytes.”

The new Molecular Research Program will be based in Selby’s existing research facilities. The IMLS Grant will provide funding to equip the new program as well as salary and research budget support for Gardens scientists for two years.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge, enhance learning and innovation, and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, visit