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Science & Conservation
Nina Rønsted

Nina Rønsted

– Director of Science and Conservation

As Director of Science for the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Nina oversees the strategic development of science and conservation at the Juliet Rice Wichman Botanical Research Center (BRC) at NTBG’s national headquarters in Kalāheo, Hawaiʻi on the island of Kauaʻi. Nina came to NTBG in August 2019 from the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen where she served both as Professor and Curator of vascular plants and Director of Science. Nina has a PhD degree from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and has held research fellowships at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in the UK and the University of Minnesota. Nina’s research is interdisciplinary and centered on the evolution of plant diversity and the relationship between people and plants including field work in multiple countries. In addition to being devoted to understanding and conserving the worlds plants, Nina is an enthusiastic science communicator.


David H. Lorence

David H. Lorence

– Senior Research Botanist

Dr. David Lorence occupies the B. Evans Chair of Botany and came to the National Tropical Botanical Garden in 1987. Research specialties are systematic studies of tropical plants, floristics, and invasive plant species. His systematic research focuses on Pacific and neotropical members of the large and diverse Rubiaceae family, which includes coffee, quinine, and gardenias. He also studies Pacific island pteridophytes and the Monimiaceae family of the Malagasy region.


Timothy W. Flynn

Timothy W. Flynn

– Herbarium Curator

Tim is Curator of the Herbarium (PTBG) at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. He has been working at NTBG since 1981. In addition to managing the herbarium he has also participated in fieldwork in Hawaiʻi, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Palau, Australia, New Caledonia, and Ecuador.


Seana K. Walsh

Seana K. Walsh

– Conservation Biologist

As Conservation Biologist of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Seana’s primary role is to lead in the development of the organization’s activities to implement the Hawaiʻi Strategy for Plant Conservation. She earned a Master’s degree in Botany from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. Her applied research interests include plant breeding systems, pollination ecology, and population genetics.


Kenneth R. Wood

Kenneth R. Wood

– Research Biologist

Ken’s research focuses on the study and conservation of Pacific Island floras. His essential responsibilities include organizing and conducting botanical field surveys with a specialty in accessing rough terrain habitats. Other aspects of his research include: mapping the distribution and abundance of rare Pacific island plants (phytogeography); collecting herbarium specimens for scientific study, collecting seeds, spores, and cuttings for conservation, and DNA material for genetic sequencing; publishing conservation status data and new species descriptions; and contributing to conservation biology research and educational outreach through national and international scientific collaboration.


Dustin Wolkis

Dustin Wolkis

– Seed Bank & Laboratory Manager

As Seed Bank and Laboratory Manager at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Dustin specialize in ex situ seed conservation biology with an emphasis on seed and pollen storage behavior, seed longevity and aging kinetics, seed borne pathogen abatement, and seed dormancy and dormancy alleviation of native Hawaiian plant species of conservation importance. His research aims to understand how seeds respond to desiccation and subfreezing temperatures, identifying regeneration intervals, and determining optimal seed propagation techniques.


Margaret Clark

Margaret Clark

– Science and Conservation Specialist

Margaret came to the Science & Conservation Department at NTBG in 2006, after receiving her JD and Master of Law degrees from the University of Washington, as well as graduate certificates in Conservation Biology Policy as well as Patent and Intellectual Property Law and Practice. While at NTBG she facilitated and wrote a Collections Policy, and currently researches and compiles reports on rare plants for US Fish and Wildlife Service and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.


Ben Nyberg

Ben Nyberg

– GIS and Drone Program Coordinator

Ben has an MSc degree in GIS (Global Information System mapping) from Penn State University from 2017. At NTBG he is responsible for management of organization-wide phytogeography data and GIS modeling, contributing data to NTBGs research and conservation work, as well as to over 250 NTBG led IUCN Red List assessments. Ben has also implemented an innovative drone program helping NTBG survey hard to access terrain. His research work with using drones in biodiversity exploration is internationally recognized and he has been locating several threatened plant species of conservation importance.


Research Associates

NTBG’s research programs are enhanced by partnerships with research associates who utilize or curate NTBG’s living and herbarium collections, engage in collaborative research projects with staff, and contribute expertise that complements the skills of existing staff members.

Dr. Ruth Aguraiuja – Native Hawaiian Ferns

Dr. Bruce Baldwin – Vascular Plant Systematics

Dr. Michael Balick – Economic Botany, Ethnobotany

Dr. Christopher Baraloto – Tropical Biology, Florida International University

Mr. David Boucher – Plant Propagation

Ms. Kelsey Brock – Invasive Plant Species

Dr. Robert Cabin – Ecology and Conservation Biology

Dr. Sherwin Carlquist – Plant Anatomy

Dr. Thomas Croat – Systematics of Araceae

Mr. Liloa Dunn – Pacific Island Ethnobotany

Dr. Mary Endress – Apocynaceae Systematics

Dr. Peter Endress – Floral Diversity and Evolution

Dr. Vicki Funk – Systematics of Compositae

Mr. John Game – Hawaiian Pteridophytes

Mr. Dean Jamieson – Entomology

Dr. Holly E. Johnson – Ethnopharmacology/Natural Products Chemistry

Dr. Michael Kiehn – Cytotaxonomy, Vascular Plant Systematics

Dr. William Laidlaw – Breeding Systems and Conservation

Mr. Alexander Lane – Breadfruit

Mr. Wayne Law – Ethnobotany, Ecology and Conservation Biology

Dr. Jean-Yves Meyer – Pacific Biodiversity Conservation

Dr. Susan Murch – Plant Biotechnology & Natural Products Chemistry

Dr. Jonathan Price – Pacific Islands Biogeography

Mr. James Shevock – Hawaiian Bryophytes

Dr. Alan R. Smith – Pteridophyte Systematics and Floristics

Dr. Maggie Sporck-Koehler – Hawaiian Flora

Dr. Charlotte Taylor – Rubiaceae Systematics and Floristics

Dr. Donna W. Vogler – Breeding Systems

Dr. Warren L. Wagner – Hawaiian and Pacific Island Floristics

Mr. Kenta Watanabe – Breeding Systems of Psychotria

Dr. Stephen G. Weller – Breeding Systems, Restoration Ecology

Dr. Nyree Zerega – Breadfruit Systematics

Dr. John B. Sculley – Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology

Our Areas of Focus

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