Tropical Forest Cuba Exhibit Highlights New Duquesne, Phipps Partnership

Duquesne University and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are collaborating on various initiatives that include environmental research, programming and student internships.

“Through our partnership with Duquesne, Phipps Conservatory continues to expand its environmental research capabilities and insights,” Richard V. Piacentini, executive director at Phipps, said. “We look forward to many exciting collaboration opportunities ahead as we bring our leading organizations together.”

The Phipps-Duquesne partnership is multi-faceted, with Duquesne students, fellows, research scientists and faculty involved in a range of expansive initiatives at Phipps. Students are currently gaining hands-on experience by participating in festival event programming in Phipps’ Tropical Forest Cuba. The exhibit includes a wide variety of exotic Cuban plant species, a station featuring life-size replica carvings of endemic Cuban birds and a traditional Cuban farmacia that showcases natural medicine.

“We are excited to partner with Phipps and help to bring the natural beauty and culture of Cuba to Pittsburgh,” Dr. Philip Reeder, dean of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said. “New collaboration opportunities will facilitate research between post-doctoral fellows and research scientists at Phipps and faculty in the Bayer School, place Duquesne undergraduate student interns at Phipps and provide community-engaged learning opportunities for Duquesne students through special events and activities.”

Additional collaborations include:

  • Duquesne research scientists are partnering with Phipps on a scientific study of Coqui frogs, a species of small tree frogs found throughout Cuba and the Caribbean islands. The new research will study the frogs at Phipps, including key factors affecting their survival and potential impacts on insect populations.
  • Phipps will be part of a new documentary that Duquesne Biology Professor Dr. John Pollock is developing on mindfulness, compassion and yoga that will detail how human brains and bodies manage significant trauma and pain.
  • Duquesne researchers and students are participating in “Meet a Scientist” days at Phipps. Most recently, guests had the opportunity to meet with Duquesne Ph.D. candidate Michelle Valkanas to learn about her groundbreaking research studies.