The Society for Economic Botany

Fostering research and education on the past, present, and future uses of plants by people.

2020 Student Representative Election

Only Student Members may vote in this Student Representative election.

Please find below the candidate statements for this election.

When you are ready to vote, CLICK HERE



Brandon Dale

Brandon Dale is an ethnobotanist and pharmacognosist, with interests in medical ethnobotany and natural product drug discovery. He is a dual degree student of medicine (MD) and basic science (PhD) Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Discovery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Throughout his career, he has worked in several institutions to deepen his skillset and foundation within the ethnobotanical sciences. His research experiences at University of Chicago Pharmacognosy and Medicinal Chemistry department and Dr. Cassandra Quave’s lab at the Emory School of Medicine Dermatology were foundational in developing his interests. While pursuing his B.A. in Ethnopharmacognosy (2017) from Brown University, he was a recurring teaching assistant for the course "Botanical Roots of Modern Medicine," participated in plant collection excursions across New England, Ghana and rural Panama. He is the founder of the Medical Ethnobotany Group at Mount Sinai which educates clinicians and patients on the interface of clinical medicine, research and ethnobotany. Serving on the SEB’s Student Committee would allow me to share my passions for the field of ethnobotany, while creating opportunities for other students to access mentors, internships and SEB resources. As a dual-degree graduate and medical student, I feel especially inclined to serving on the SEB Student Committee so that I can reach out to all sectors of the graduate school population of future ethnobotanist to build a community that promotes academic inquiry, conversations and collaboration amongst graduate professionals interested in ethnobotany. It is my vision to increase local networking opportunities for students interested in Ethnobotany to build deeper connections with those nearby to foster future collaborations. Additionally, I hope to utilize the wide breadth of expertise represented by current Student Committee members to increase the cross-talk of those interested in ethnobotany, while allowing for more informal gatherings of those in similar areas.


Harriet Gendall

I would like to become more involved in the Society for Economic Botany, by taking on a supporting role to the Senior Student Representative and the Student Representative Elect. I am an Ethnobotany MSc student at the University of Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation, due to start my PhD in September. My doctoral research focuses on the rediscovery of native ingredients and traditional culinary heritage by Peruvian chefs, and its impact on local livelihoods and biocultural conservation. More widely, my research interests encompass edible plants, lost crops, food politics, and biocultural collections. Between 2018-2019 I was the Project Officer for the Mobile Museum Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where I worked closely with the Economic Botany Collection and facilitated two London-based primary schools with the development of their own pop-up ethnobotanical museums. I spent last summer in Central Asia, assisting the Millennium Seed Bank’s partners in Kyrgyzstan with their seed-collecting efforts, and carrying out a small research project on land management practices in and around walnut forests, to help inform the design of Kew Wakehurst’s Silk Road garden. I am a skilled graphic designer, illustrator and photographer, and a keen cook. I have been a Student Member of the SEB since 2017, when I presented my research at the 58th annual meeting in Braganc╠ža. Meeting, socialising with, and hearing about the work of fellow ethnobiologists at that conference was an incredible experience, and I was bowled over by the feeling of being part of a uniquely inspiring academic community. It is my hope that becoming yet more involved with the SEB through being a Student Representative will lead me towards further exciting professional collaborations and enduring friendships.


James Lucas

My name is James Lucas and I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Population Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, where I am advised by Dr. Robbie Hart, director of the William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden. My research incorporates functional trait analyses, species distribution modeling, semistructured interviews, and experimental hand papermaking techniques to explore and explain why certain plants are used for making paper by hand instead of others.

Paper, with its longstanding applications in many branches of science and the arts, has enabled me to appreciate the strength of ethnobotany as a hub for integrating many different disciplines. SEB therefore serves as an essential crucible for generating new knowledge by fostering unique, interdisciplinary collaborations through social media, Economic Botany, and annual conferences. My experience as a science communicator, student mentor, and origami artist reflects my commitment to coordinating and directing holistic learning, teaching, and collaboration, and qualifies me to serve as an active link between students and professors in SEB as Representative-Elect.


Lucas Pawera

I am a passionate multidisciplinary ethnobotanist specialized in food plants biodiversity, traditional diets and nutrition-sensitive food systems. I have an MSc degree with distinction in Tropical Crop Management and Ecology from Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. Currently, I am in my last year of the PhD program called Tropical Agrobiology and Bioresource Management at the same institution. My PhD project is looking at the linkages of agrobiodiversity, local knowledge and dietary outcomes of Minangkabau and Mandailing indigenous women farmers in West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Recently, I have been bridging ethnobotany with nutrition and resilience. I am committed to research-for-development, building capacity of vulnerable ones, leveraging local resources, and aiming for impact on the ground. Besides academia, I have worked for the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, Bioversity International, Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, NESFAS, Swisscontact Indonesia, Czech Agriculture Research Institute, and People in Need. In the last years, with the Indigenous Partnership, we are training a cadre of indigenous youths to come forward to conserve and strengthen their indigenous food systems.

By a stronger engagement with SEB, I would aim to bring diversification and enhanced application of ethnobotany by demonstrating its practical use within the sustainable development sector and communities’ empowerment. I am excited to collaborate, learn how the society operates, and guide younger students. If possible, I would like to initiate a closer collaboration of members working on similar themes. Also, I would offer linkages to several indigenous communities (through the Indigenous Partnership) so that some interested students could eventually conduct their research with the indigenous communities and mutually benefit each other. Considering that I am in the final year of my PhD, this may be my last chance to be a student representative!

The published work can be seen here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lukas_Pawera2


Irene Holm Sorensen

Currently, I hold a position as a PhD student at the Department of Socio-ecological interactions in agricultural systems at the University of Kassel, Germany, where I am researching how value chains influence sustainable landscape management in agroforestry systems in Spain and Morocco. In 2018, I graduated my MSc in ethnobotany at Kent, UK, and a MSc in nature management at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

I have always been interested in the practicalities of landscape management, and linking this to my raison d'être – every possible aspect concerning food – studying and advocating for agrobiodiversity has become the main focus of my research. From working with goat cheese producing landscape stewards in Norway, to assessing home garden architecture in the Tyrolean Alps, I circulate around mountain ecosystems which is the diametrical contrast to my place of upbringing in Denmark.

Due to my background in rural landscape planning, I believe that management which is supposed to be sustainable on all thinkable levels, is something that cannot be performed without the people actually living the landscape. In order to transmit or co-create practices, I aim to learn with the biggest humility how to communicate the appreciation of a diverse world of nature-human interactions.

What I would offer to the Society as a student representative would be by sharing my enthusiasm about what the members are passionate and curious about. I would like to create a platform where members can exchange their knowledge, as well as sharing experiences and doubts from the field, the screen, and the mind.


Ella Vardeman

Ella Vardeman is a joint-PhD student in the Plant Sciences program at the City University of New York and New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Her research focuses on documentation and chemical analysis of plants used by Haitian immigrants for women’s health conditions in New York City (NYC). Her research will contribute to the Cultural Competency Training Program about Caribbean and Latin Ethnobotany and Ethnomedicine (CarLo-E2) that is under development at NYBG. This program aims to relay traditional health practices of Caribbean and Latino immigrants to doctors and medical students while promoting cultural sensitivity in healthcare. Starting in Fall 2020, Ella will be involved with an outreach position for the New York EcoFlora project where she will apply her knowledge of ethnobotany to engage volunteers and raise awareness for plant conservation in NYC. Ella received her undergraduate degree in Plant Biology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Georgia (UGA). During her undergraduate study, Ella completed several independent research projects ranging from floristics to ethnopharmacology. She also held an outreach position at the UGA Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden where she collaborated with Botanic Gardens Conservation International to develop an educational mobile application for the Garden that is now utilized in several undergraduate classes across campus. If elected Student Representative-elect, Ella’s strong background in outreach and science communications would allow her to creatively connect a wide range of current and potential SEB students.