Conference Information

Schedule and Speakers

Friday November 10, 2017

8 AM – 6 PM

in Business Administration 1


Tickets will not be available at the door as the conference has sold out.


Keynote speakers

Dr. Ray Wheeler, NASA

Plants for Human Life Support in Space

Ray Wheeler is a plant physiologist at NASA’s at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), where he has been working since 1988.  He serves as the lead for Advanced Life Support research at KSC, and has focused much of his work on studying plants for food and oxygen production for future space missions, or so-called bioregenerative life support systems.  This includes studies of crop responses to light, CO2 concentration, hydroponic cultivation, and whole canopy measurements of photosynthesis, transpiration and the production of volatile organic compounds, like ethylene.  Ray has participated as a co-investigator on several space flight experiments, including the first demonstration of potato tuber development in weightlessness on the Space Shuttle, and current vegetable production trials on the International Space Station.  Ray has had adjunct or courtesy appointments at eight different universities, including the University of Central Florida, and he currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Life Sciences Commission of the International Committee for Space Research (COSPAR).

Dr. Stella Salvo, Monsanto

Innovations in plant breeding: Serving farmers in increasing agricultural productivity in emerging markets

Stella Salvo leads Asia-Africa Precision Breeding at Monsanto Company. She was born in the Philippines and raised in the US growing up in Indiana. Stella completed her BS at Purdue University in International Agronomy with a minor in International Studies. She did her MS at Colorado State University and PhD at the University of Wisconsin, both in Plant Breeding and Genetics. Stella worked for the USDA in maize breeding and has served as a USAID volunteer in Mali and Ethiopia. Stella enjoys watching her son play soccer, travel, running, and yoga.

Emily Ruff, Director, Florida School of Holistic Living

Finding Relationships in the Roots: Healing ourselves and our planet with bioregional plant allies

Emily Ruff is a community herbalist who has practiced the art and science of plant healing for over a decade. The daughter of a botany professor, she completed apprenticeships with beloved Western herbalists including Rosemary Gladstar and George D’Arcy. Under her direction, the Florida School of Holistic Living runs a professional herbal training program, a community clinic, a teaching garden, and an annual conference. Emily is the founder of the Orlando Grief Care Project, coordinates the Herbal Action Network, and was involved in the Medic and Healer Council at Standing Rock.




Concurrent Session & Workshop Speakers


The Rare Plant Conservation Program at Bok Tower Gardens   Dr. Cheryl Peterson, Bok Tower Gardens

Connecting with Florida’s Native Plant Communities   Catherine Bowman, Florida Native Plant Society

Trees Under Attack, both Locally and Globally   Dr. Don Spence, Assistant Professor, Bethune-Cookman University



Reminiscing: 48 years worth (a history of UCF’s natural lands)  Dr. Walter Taylor, UCF emeritus professor

Work-in-progress demonstration of a STEM teaching resource, The Virtual UCF Arboretum Project, the website and virtual reality flowers and plants   Dr. Maria Harrington, Assistant Professor, School of Visual Arts and Design

Pollinator Initiatives and Research in Constructed and Remnant Plant Communities on the UCF Campus   Dr. Patrick Bohlen, Yvelande Raymond, and Shiala M. Naranjo, UCF Department of Biology



Pedal-Powered Urban Agriculture   Caroline Chomanics, Fleet Farming

Paleoethnobotany: Linking Plants to Peoples in the Past   Dr. Neil Duncan, UCF assistant professor

An Introduction to the Invasive Exotic Species of Florida   Brittany Morrow, Seminole County Greenways and Natural Lands Program

Living Shorelines: Protecting Florida’s Coasts through Restoration   Christian Pilato, Linda Walters, UCF Biology Dept

Plants for Stream/ Lake Condition Indexing   Tina McIntyre, Orange County Environmental Protection Division

Workshop sessions

Q&A Panel: Career Opportunities in Plant Sciences Panelists TBA

Hydroponics: Farming for the Future   Hannah Wooten, UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County

Small Space Gardening Chelsea Nitsch

Pollinators in Crisis: The Complicated Truth Jessica Sullivan

Tour of UCF Pollinator Gardens Dr. Patrick Bohlen

Native Plant Walk in UCF Arboretum Catherine Bowman



Registation closed