Research Overview

With a background in botany and cultural anthropology, I am fascinated with how historic and modern peoples around the world use plants for food, medicine, art, and metaphor.  I am also interested in studying the commodification and conservation of these plants.  My research interests incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to address basic and applied questions in ethnobotany, ecology, and plant conservation.

Local research projects involve the conservation of rare plants including Piratebush (Buckleya distichophylla) and the Smooth Coneflower (Echinacea laevigata), and climate effects on Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) products and the corresponding socio-economic responses to these changes. We are also working on a project documenting Appalachian ethnobotany.

International projects include the study and conservation of Tongan medicinal plants and research into successful community-mediated conservation of the culturally and economically-valuable Sandalwood tree (Santalum yasi) in Fiji and Tonga.

I have also been involved with pedagogical research in association with the Open Science Network in Ethnobiology to learn and implement effective ways of teaching plant biology and ethnobotany.

More details of current projects, collaborators, and student researchers can be found by following the links listed on this page.  If you are interested in working with this group as a volunteer or collaborator, please contact me at rdh5b@uvawise.edu .

 

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(Photo credits for Sugar Maple tapping: David Bruce)

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