Taft students are already enjoying the benefits of a new and strong relationship between Taft School and The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Built largely on the inspiration of former NYBG and current Taft development team member Paul Parvis, the synergistic relationship will bring NYBG scientists to Taft, and recently found Taft students behind the scenes in the Botanical Garden's labs.
“Because of our relationship with NYBG, I was able to tour their facilities a few months ago with two other Taft teachers,” explained Laura Monti. “When I began teaching a small group of motivated science students this spring, I thought they would also appreciate seeing a modern lab doing cutting-edge research--especially from a different perspective than the biomedical angle they more commonly see.”
The group includes eight students enrolled in an independent tutorial in biological research methods. They are working with plants right now, making the trip that much more relevant. During their time at the Botanical Garden, students visited the herbarium, the molecular genetics lab facility and the tropical lowlands section of the conservatory.
“Seeing a real lab was amazing,” said participant Sarah Denning ’12. “I thought working in research was what I was interested in and being there only solidified that idea. And I loved how Dr. Litt, who gave us the tour, spoke in detail about the research without worrying that we wouldn't understand. I felt like what we learned in AP Bio and in our independent tutorial allowed us to be an informed audience, and the tour-guide recognized that.”
And the benefits of the trip will not only stay with the students, but will also impact their work at Taft.
“The lab we are working on now seems even more real. Plant gene sequencing is a real goal of the scientific community and we are part of it," said Sarah.
Taft’s partnership with NYBG continues later this month when renowned botanist Dr. Scott A. Mori comes to campus for an evening lecture (full story to follow). He will address both students and the public on Wednesday, February 29, at 6:30 p.m. in a session entitled, “The Role of the Rainforest in Maintaining Life on Earth.” Dr. Mori is the first of six scientists who will lecture at Taft. The event is made possible in part by a grant from the Yerkes Family Botanical Art and Science Speakers Fund.