Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Smithsonian Botanical Symposium
May 18, 2018
National Museum of
   Natural History and
the U.S. Botanic Garden
Washington, DC


Presented by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Department of Botany in collaboration with the United States Botanic Garden:

"Plants in the Past: Fossils and the Future"

Present-day plant diversity is remarkably rich and varied. It fully occupies those of us working in the United States National Herbarium and the United States Botanic Garden. Nonetheless, it is well known that the vast majority of plant species to have ever lived are now extinct. Knowledge of the past is key to understanding the origins of present-day plant diversity and to illuminating the fundamental evolutionary processes that generate it.

The 16th Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, hosted by the Department of Botany and the United States Botanic Garden, will explore plants in the past, from their early origins to the more recent rise of the angiosperms. Speakers will address current trends and the future of paleobotanical research. The Symposium coincides with the development of the Natural History Museum’s Deep Time exhibit, a major overhaul of the National Fossil Hall, which is scheduled to open to the public in June 2019.

NOTE: Unlike previous years, the Symposium presentations will take place in the Warner Bros. Theater in Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.


Grewiopsis saportiana

Fossil specimen of Grewiopsis saportana Lesquereux from the Hell Creek Formation. (image courtesy of the Smithsonian’s Department of Paleobiology Collections)

Speaker Abstracts


Program and Schedule

Confirmed Speakers

Sir Peter Crane (Oak Spring Garden Foundation)
Andrew Leslie (Brown University)
Susana Magallón (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
Surangi Punyasena (University Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Mónica Ramírez-Carvalho (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)
Selena Y. Smith (University of Michigan)
Jonathan Wilson (Haverford College)

Friday, May 18
Morning Session
NMAH Warner Bros. Theater

9:00 a.m. Registration (enter through Constitution Avenue lobby)

9:30 a.m. - 12:45. invited papers.

10:45 a.m. Coffee break, Jazz Café

12:45 p.m. Lunch break - on your own

Afternoon Session
NMAH Warner Bros. Theater

2:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Invited papers and discussion

3:30 p.m. Coffee break, Jazz Café

Evening Events
The United States Botanic Garden
6:30 p.m. Closing reception and poster session, United States Botanic Garden, Washington, DC.


CALL FOR POSTERS The National Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Botanic Garden have begun accepting abstracts for poster presentations for the the 16th Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, "Plants in the Past: Fossils and the Future", which will be held May 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Space is limited and will be accepted based upon the quality of the abstract and the order received.


  • Abstracts must be submitted electronically to before 13 April 2018.
  • Abstract selections will be made by 20 April 2018. Notifications will be sent by email only.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING ABSTRACTS Abstract submissions should include the following:

  • • Topic must be related to the study of paleobotany and contain original research.
  • Author(s) name(s) including affiliation(s) and email address(es).
  • List the title in upper and lower case. Titles are limited to 150 characters.
  • Abstracts may not exceed 1,500 characters (approx. 200 words), including spaces.
After you submit your abstract, you will receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive an email, your abstract has not been received. Registration is mandatory to be included in the program.



  • Posters will be displayed on May 18th at the U.S. Botanic Garden during the closing reception.


  • Posters should be no larger than 30" x 40" (portrait orientation)
  • Presenting authors are requested to attend the poster session (6:00 pm - 8:00 pm) to take advantage of opportunities to discuss their work with symposium participants.

What will be provided:

  • Easels, foam board and binder clips for each accepted presenter.
  • We will NOT provide you with a table, computers, monitors or other electronic equipment and cannot guarantee access to electricity for your presentation should it be required.


National Museum of Natural History
   Department of Botany
   Office of the Associate Director for Science
United States Botanic Garden

Visitor Information


The National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall at 1300 Constitution Ave NW in Washington, DC 20560.

The United States Botanic Garden is also located on the National Mall, at 100 Maryland Ave SW in Washington, DC 20001.

For maps, directions, and additional information, visit the NMAH or USBG websites.


Metrorail, Washington's subway system, and Metrobus link the city with nearby communities in Maryland and Virginia. The closest subway stations to the National Museum of Natural History are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian (both on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines). The closest subway station to the United States Botanic Garden is Federal Center SW (also on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines). For a Metrorail map and more information, visit the Metro website.

Washington is served by three major airports: Reagan National (DCA), which is most convenient for domestic travelers; Dulles International (IAD); and Baltimore/Washington International (BWI). DCA is served directly by Metrorail. IAD and BWI can both be accessed via public transportation, but are not directly served by Metrorail.

Parking is not available at the museum. There are several private parking garages in the vicinity.


There are many options in the Washington area. In general, prices decrease with distance from the National Mall (city center). However, it is important to factor in the cost and time required to travel between a particular option and the conference venues on the National Mall. It is recommended that you prioritize options within walking distance to a Metrorail stop or the conference venues.

For hotels, the popular online booking sites for travelers should provide you with a range of possibilities. As always, reading reviews can be helpful. Please keep in mind that Washington is a popular tourist destination; for the greatest number of options and best prices, book early. Please note that there is not an official conference hotel.

SBS 2018 - Optional Behind-the-Scenes Tour

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History
National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. and Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20560
Hosted by Smithsonian Libraries

Come see rare paleobotanical books in the Smithsonian Libraries' Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. The Cullman Library will have on display a wide selection of publications that highlight fossil plants, from Boccone's Recherches (1674), through the editions of Scheuchzer's Herbarium diluvianum (1709, 1723), to Brongniart's works in the 19th century, and more.

To sign up, please send an email message to indicating which tour you would like to attend. First come, first serve. A waiting list will be made to accommodate demand. RSVP by Monday, May 14.

  • Thursday, May 17 at 3:00 - 4:00 pm
  • Thursday, May 17 at 4:00 - 5:00 pm
  • Friday May 18 at 5:30 - 6:30 pm

Capacity for each tour is 20 people.

For more information on the Cullman Library collections, go to and click on the pdf at the bottom of the page.

Please note: The Cullman Library is a high-security facility; you will be on video camera. No food or drink is allowed in the library. Photography is allowed, but no flash.

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