The Society for Economic Botany

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

Ballot 2016

SEB 2016 Ballot

President-Elect – Gayle Fritz    |   Christian Vogl
Secretary  –  Maria Fadiman  |   Nanci Ross    
Council  –  Jillian DeGezelle  |   Ryan Huish   |   Jocelyn Muller   |   Zbyněk Polesný 
Student Representative – James Conner  |  Alexander O’Neill


Cast your BALLOT here

The Election Closes May 24, 2016




Gayle Fritz (PhD, University of North Carolina, 1986)

Positions Held: Professor (2004-Present) Washington University in St. Louis; Associate Professor (1996-2004) WUSTL; Assistant Professor (1990-1996) WUSTL.

Interests: Plant domestication; agricultural sustainability, creation and management of anthropogenic landscapes, Eastern North American Agricultural Complex; post-Columbian foodways in the Americas as negotiated by both indigenous and colonizing people.

Significant Publications: Ethnobotany and Early Frontier Food, in Fort San Juan and the Limits of Empire: Colonialism and Household Practice at the Berry Site, edited by R.A. Beck, D.G. Moore, and C.B. Rodning, pp. 237-270, 2016, University Press of Florida, Gainesville; Agricultural Origins from the Ground Up: Archaeological Approaches to Plant Domestication (B.S. Langlie, N.G. Mueller, R.N. Spengler, and G.J. Fritz) American Journal of Botany, 2014, 101:1601-1617; Maygrass (Phalaris caroliniana Walt.), in New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops, edited by P.E. Minnis, pp. 12-43, 2014. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Platform Statement
My research into the deep and rich history of people-plant interrelations depends heavily on the Society for Economic Botany, and I owe a great deal intellectually and professionally to the annual meetings, journal, and newsletter. I believe that members of our organization—individually and collectively; through scientific projects, teaching, and public engagement—make a positive impact globally in the face of numerous threats to the world’s biotic and cultural resources. It’s an honor to be asked to run for the office of President, and I would be happy to serve.

I’ve been an SEB member for three decades and served as Council Member At Large (2000-2003). I was also an elected officer of the Society of Ethnobiology (Secretary-Treasurer) and Southeastern Archaeological Conference (Executive Board Member and Journal Co-Editor). As SEB president, my goals would be: (1) to continue and to strengthen the Society’s emphases on recruitment and involvement of students and on general education; (2) to intensify international participation and visibility; (3) to promote cooperation with sister societies while not sacrificing the fellowship of SEB members; and (4) to make sure that the quality and impact of the journal remain at the highest possible level.



Christian Vogl (PhD, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria - BOKU , 1999)

Positions Held: Associate Professor, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria - BOKU, 2004-present, Assistant professor (BOKU 1996-2003), Project assistant (BOKU, 1994-1995), Agroecology Extension Advisor (Various NGOs in Austria and Central America, 1990-1994),

Interests: Ethnobotany; Organic Farming; Eco-systemic knowledge of farmers; farmers’ experiments and innovations),

Significant Publications: VAN DER STEGE, C.; VOGL-LUKASSER, B.; VOGL, C.R. (2012): The role of homegardens in strengthening social-ecological resilience: Case studies from Cuba and Austria’. In: Plieninger, T. & Bieling, C. (eds.) Resilience and the cultural landscape: Understanding and managing change in human-shaped environments. Cambridge University Press. chapter 15, ISBN:9781107020788. AYRLE, H; SCHMID, K; DISLER, M; BISCHOFF, T; STUCKI, K; ZBINDEN, M; VOGL, CR; HAMBURGER, M; WALKENHORST, M, (2015):  Plant species reported from Swiss farmers to treat bovine respiratory diseases. PLANTA MED. 81(16): 1504-1505. SCHUNKO, C; GRASSER, S; VOGL, C. R. (2015): Explaining the resurgent popularity of the wild: motivations for wild plant gathering in the Biosphere Reserve Grosses Walsertal, Austria. J ETHNOBIOL ETHNOMED. 2015; 11:55

Platform statement
As president, I would give continuity to the successful work of our dedicated team in the Council, the Business Office and the committees, including the enthusiastic members working currently for the society without any formal function. I would also pick up crucial unresolved issues. We do have to make considerable efforts in increasing our membership and achieving a stronger visibility of our dedicated network of students, scientists and scholars.

I will personally talk e.g. with representatives of our chapters and members worldwide on steps for making SEB visible in regions but also at conferences that tackle our topics, but do not know (sufficiently) SEB. People and Plants is a wonderful newsletter, the atmosphere of our meetings is a great learning experience and our Journal is top. It is an urgent common task ensuring the diffusion of these media. The debate on the name of our society is related to our visibility and has not come to a solution yet. The society’s name merits historical respect but at the same time it is often misunderstood by our audience and does not attract sufficiently scholars related to our field. We need an attractive name for the society that rally represents the diversity and relevance of our work in the 21st century. I am looking forward to facilitate this process but also all other tasks seen as needed by our membership and the team in charge.




Maria Fadiman (PhD, University of Texas at Austin, 2003) 

Positions Held: Assistant-Associate Professor (2004-Pres) Florida Atlantic University; Adjunct professor, (2003-2004) Sonoma State University

Interests: plants, people,hiking  

Significant Publications: 2015. Environmental Justice and the Lawn: Urban Parks in Shanghai, China. Florida Geographer (Accepted for Publication) 2105 “Everyday Reciprocity: What Works, What Does Not and the Area in Between,”In D. Herman (ed.) Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Contexts (Accepted for Publication) 2015. Ecosystem Excitement: Using Everyday Items, Projects, Field Trips and Exotic Images to Connected Students to Plants. In C. Quave (ed.) pp.261-276.Innovative Strategies for Teaching in the Plant Sciences, Springer: New York. 2014.

The Society of Economic Botany has been a huge influence in my career and in my life. I look forward to the opportunity to be able to serve as secretary for this organization. I have been a member since 1999 and look forward to continuing my affiliation throughout my career. The ideas and papers presented at the meetings and in the journal continue to influence my work, and that of my students. It is a vibrant and unique group of individuals who make up the society, a group with whom I love to present and collaborate and now to work. I enjoyed my time as a board member and now look to contribute more substantially as the secretary if given the opportunity.



Nanci Ross (PhD, University of Connecticut, 2008)

Positions Held: Assistant Professor of Ethnobotany 2010-present, Biology Department, Drake University; Research Associate 2008-2010, Missouri Botanical Garden William L. Brown Center;

Interests and/or Activities: ethnobotany, ethnoecology, biogeography, land-use legacies;

Significant Publications: Quave, C. L., K. Barfield, N. J. Ross, and K. Hall. 2015. The Open Science Network in Ethnobiology: Growing the Influence of Ethnobiology. Ethnobiology Letters 6: 1–4.; Ross, N. J., M. H. H. Stevens, A. Rupiper, I. Harkreader, and L. Leben. 2014. The ecological side of an ethnobotanical coin: legacies in historically managed trees. American Journal of Botany 101: 1618–1630.; Ross, N. J.  2011.  Modern tree species composition reflects Ancient Maya ‘forest gardens’ in NW Belize.  Ecological Applications 21(1): 75–84.

It is self-evident that science should not only be reductionist in the sense of seeking to understand phenomena by detailed study of smaller and smaller components, but also synthetic and holistic in the sense of seeking to understand large components as functional wholes.” (Eugene Odum 1977: 1289)  The first lecture slide for the first class that I ever created was the above quote by Odum. I study the “invisible ecology” of human-landscape interactions, hidden legacies of landscape management by both ancient and modern traditional cultures. The holistic approach to biology epitomized by Odum is the core of both my teaching and my research philosophies. For this reason, I have been an active member of the Society of Economic Botany for the last eight years. I previously served on the SEB Council and recognize the important role our society has in helping to advance the science and pursuit of Ethnobiology as we face issues of social justice, sustainability and climate change. I would like your vote to serve on the council and continue to play an active role in supporting the work of Ethnobiology.



Council members at large

Jillian DeGezelle (PhD, The New York Botanical Garden and the City University of New York, 2013)

Positions Held: Teaching Assistant Professor of Ethnobotany (2013-present) North Carolina State University; Ethnobotany Faculty (2013-present) Tropical Conservation Consortium; Research Assistant (2005-2013) Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden; Adjunct Lecturer (2005-2010) Lehman College; Researcher (2004-2005) Queens Botanical Garden; Interests: traditional medical systems, plants of spiritual significance, biocultural diversity conservation; Significant Publications: Q’eqchi’ Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine. 2014. Springer; Feeling the Pulse in Maya Medicine: An Endangered Tool for Diagnosis, Therapy, and Tracking Patients’ Progress. Coauthored with Michael J. Balick and Rosita Arvigo. 2008. EXPLORE – The Journal of Science and Healing

I am a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at NC State University, where I have developed 4 ethnobotany courses and an ethnobotany concentration, in addition to mentoring student research.  I also teach field courses with the Tropical Conservation Consortium in Panama.  My research focuses on traditional ecological knowledge, medicinal plants, ethnomedical practices, and spiritually significant plants used in Belize, Mexico, and Panama.  Over the past decade I have served the Society for Economic Botany in various roles.  First, as a member of the Student Committee, next as a writer for our Plants and People newsletter, and as a member of the Awards and Nominations Committee.  I was a co-organizer for the 2014 SEB Meeting in Cherokee and coordinated the Poster Session for that meeting.  I am also currently the Treasurer for the Open Science Network in Ethnobiology.  Collaborating with the many exceptional researchers, educators, and students that are a part of the SEB has been a highlight of my career in ethnobotany.  I look forward to continuing to serve the SEB, working with my colleagues to expand the reach of our organization, further engage our diverse membership, and create innovative plans for our future. 



Ryan Huish (PhD, City University of New York and the New York Botanical Garden, 2009)

Positions Held: Assistant Professor of Biology (2015–present) The University of Virginia’s College at Wise; Assistant Professor of Biology (2009–2015) Hollins University; Lecturer (2005–2008) The New York Botanical Garden; Adjunct Lecturer (2004–2008) Lehman College, City University of New York; Research Assistant and Editorial Contributor (2005–2008), Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden;

Interests: ethnobotany, field botany, education;

Significant Publications: Distribution, population structure, and management of a rare sandalwood (Santalum yasi, Santalaceae) in Fiji and Tonga. R. Huish, T. Faka’osi, H. Likiafu, J. Mateboto, K. Huish. Pacific Conservation Biology. 2015, 21(1): pp.27–37. The contribution of ethnobiology to teaching plant sciences: student and faculty perspectives. S. Vougioukalou, K. Barfield, R. Huish, L. Shiels, S. Brosi, P. Harrison, in ed. book by C. Quave, Innovative Strategies for Teaching in the Plant Sciences. Springer Publishing. 2014, pp.33–45. Aligning plant identification curricula to disciplinary standards through the framework of student-centered learning. S. Brosi, R. Huish. in ed. book by C. Quave, Innovative Strategies for Teaching in the Plant Sciences. Springer Publishing. 2014, pp.83–100. For more details about current research, visit

I have a passion for the rich, diverse, and dynamic interface between plants and people, and share a vision for how these deep connections can be a unifying power in professional fields and humanity at large—we are all fundamentally branches on the same tree. I feel that this is essentially what the mission of the Society for Economic Botany is, to articulate and perpetuate these innate and important connections, and to apply this knowledge to action. As a member of the SEB council, I would help facilitate this by capitalizing on our efforts in the areas of community involvement, education and research standards, professional/leadership development resources for students (undergraduate and graduate) and other participants, and incorporating membership feedback. I feel these areas are central to our continued success and unity as a professional community, and will further enable us to fulfill our mission.



Jocelyn Muller (PhD, Tufts University, 2009)

Positions Held: Instructor (2011-Present) Portland State University

Interests: local ecological knowledge, African ethnobotany, participatory research and conservation 

Significant Publications: Mueller, J.G., R. Boubacar‡* and I. Dan Guimbo.* (2014). The “How” and “Why” of Including Gender and Age in Ethnobotanical Research and Community-Based Resource Management.  Ambio  EPUB 05: 1-12.  Paulson Priebe, M and Müller, J. G. (2013) Extant Forest Plantations as a Potential Bridge Between Social Needs and Ecological Management: A Comparative Case Study Analysis. Journal of Environmental Management. 129: 608-614 Mueller, J. G., Y. Ogneva-Himmelberger, S. Lloyd‡, and J.M. Reed. (2010) Predicting Pre-historic Taro (C. esculenta) Lo`i Distribution in Hawai’i. Economic Botany64(1):22-33.  Muller, J. and A. M. Almedom. (2008) What is “Famine Food”? Distinguishing Between Traditional Vegetables and Special Foods for Times of Hunger/Scarcity (Niger).Human Ecology 36(4): 599-607.

As an interdisciplinary scientist who is often seen as an outsider in any one area of science, the Society for Economic Botany has been my academic home for 10 years now. As a student, I benefited from years of advice, support and encouragement from many members and the society as a whole. Now as an early career professional, this remains one of my most important conferences and professional networks. I hope to give back to the society through service on the board and play a role in its future. 



Zbyněk Polesný (Ph.D., Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, 2005)

Positions Held: Associate Professor (2014-present) Czech University of Life Sciences Prague; Asst. Professor (2001-2013) Czech University of Life Sciences Prague;

Interests: Agrobiodiversity, Ethnoecology, Tropical Botany;

Significant Publications: Medical ethnobotany of herbal practitioners in the Turkestan Range, southwestern Kyrgyzstan. Pawera L, Verner L, Termote C, Sodombekov I, Kandakov A, Karabaev N, Skalicky M, Polesny Z*. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 2016. 85(1): 3483; Ethnobotanical knowledge and agrobiodiversity in subsistence farming: case study of home gardens in Phong My commune, central Vietnam. Vlkova M, Polesny Z*, Verner V, Banout J, Dvorak M, Havlik J, Lojka B, Ehl P, Krausova J. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 2011. 58(5): 629-644; Ethnobotanical study of dye-yielding plants used in communities of Shipibo-Konibo Amerindians around Pucallpa city, Peru. Polesna L, Polesny Z, Lachmanova I, Clavo MZ, Kokoska L. In: The Amazon Basin: Plant Life, Wildlife and Environment. Rojas N, Prieto R (Eds.). 2011. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY, USA, p. 123-139.

Platform statement
I am an associate professor at the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. I work at the Dpt. of Crop Sciences and Agroforestry where I lead the small Agricultural Botany and Ethnoecology Research Group. Focus is on research/teaching in tropical botany and agrobiodiversity, and on coordination of the Tropical Crop Management and Ecology master degree program. I am a tropical agronomist by training, however, since 2004 when I became a member of SEB, my research focuses on ethnobotanical studies within tropical and subtropical agroecosystems. Most important experience: part of a research team working on an agroforestry project in the Peruvian Amazon (Pucallpa; 2003 – 2009), where I conducted my first ethnobotanical study.
As a council member I can offer my experience with promoting ethnobotany as a discipline in a country which was for a long time untouched by modern field ethnobotanical research. I will also bring interdisciplinary opportunities and networking with The International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE). I was a member of the organization committee of the 1st ISE Ethnobiology Workshop in Padise (Estonia) in 2010. I attended two ISE congresses in Cuzco (2008) and Tofino (2010). I am a reviewer for several plant science journals. It would be an honour to serve as a council member.



Student Representative

James Conner

I am a medical student at LMU-DCOM. I want to help produce new student initiatives and raise awareness for other students about the Society of Economic Botany. I had not heard of this organization until I got to medical school and I wish that I had heard of it earlier. Being a member of the student committee could allow me to reach out to other programs in the south east and raise awareness for Society of Economic botany. As a medical student I am very interested in plants and their potential effects on humans, specifically to cure diseases. Currently I am researching how Amatoxins could possibly be used to fight diseases like cancer by inducing apoptosis. This topic has sparked my interest in the field of ethnobotany in the last few years. I am very thankful for your consideration for the position. 



Alexander O’Neill

From 2013 – 2014, I served the Council alongside Annie Virnig and John de la Parra as an undergraduate representative (Georgetown University). Following my graduation (2015), I assumed professional positions with international non-government organizations (INGOs) in the Eastern Himalayas, and remained as a student SEB member-at-large.

My interest in economic botany stems from my greater calling to promote conservation in South Asia. I am absorbed by the potential that local knowledge systems provide into historical, socio-ecological systems, and the value of these knowledge systems when crafting conservation policy. At University, my formal academic background approached conservation from two vantage points. The first, a program which focused on phylogenetics, considered the role of human communities only or primarily in terms of the threats that human extractive and transformative activities pose on populations. As a theoretical consequence, people-free or ‘fortress conservation’ strategies were the dominant means of protecting ‘natural’ systems from what was seen as human encroachment. The second, an anthropological program, in many ways advocated the opposite. Social scientists emphasized multi-scalar power dynamics associated with conservation, and the inextricable role of local communities for managing landscapes. For them, local knowledge added to the resilience of ecosystems.

I believe that interdisciplinary fields, like economic botany, are critical for resolving this divergence. And future economic botanists, particularly undergraduates, must consider the practical implications of our field in diverse professional settings. My nested experiences in Washingtonian think-tanks and Himalayan forests qualify me to advocate for both students and the Council on this regard