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Crossroads in the Concrete Jungle

Symposium, Workshop, and Field Trip

Rutgers University, G. H. Cook Campus
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
September 22–24, 2016


We plan to start a global working group and network (Worldwide Urban Plant Evolution and Education Network) centered at Rutgers University with international researchers to collaborate long-term on how the evolution and distribution of spontaneous plants in urban, temperate areas across the globe have been and will be affected by human migration, local and global climate change, and increased urbanization. In particular we want to focus on biodiversity, biogeography, and evolution research, as well as formal and informal educational opportunities. The evolution and natural history of urban plants are closely linked to cultural histories of urbanized areas, ethnobotanical uses by various ethnicities, global phylogenetic evolution of plant diversity, and major trade and migration routes, so interdisciplinarity is a must in addressing this type of important research questions.


Register for the events by clicking on the gray button on top. The cost for the symposium is $25 and for the fieldtrip $40, and you can register for one or several events independently. Payment is with credit card only. After registration you will be sent a confirmation, and you will also receive a symposium packet with additional information (at a later date).

Symposium: Thursday, September 22

The symposium shall enhance and enforce dialogue and interdisciplinarity among participants from a broad set of fields and agencies and institutions, including parks departments, state agencies, and educators outside of university settings.


Four special Keynote Speakers will address the themes of the symposium on talks highlighting their internationally renowned research. They are Dr. Lindsay Campbell (New York), Dr. Pierre-Olivier Cheptou (France), Dr. Maria Ignatieva (Sweden), and Dr. Ian MacGregor-Fors (Mexico). For more information about their background and research, please see their bios (127k PDF).

  • Ecology and evolution of urban plant species
  • Globalization and migration of people and plants
  • The urban nature experience and landscape design
  • Plant science education and outreach in urban environments


Shorter talks on current interdisciplinary results and methods from select local participants to share developed 'best practices', 'fantastic collaborations', and 'unexpected synergies'. A panel discussion will focus on networking and collaboration among humanistic, social, and life sciences within this research topic, how to address challenges opportunities, and best practices for building up a worldwide cross-disciplinary network to enhance research in urban flora as it relates to these research fields.


Reception and poster session. The posters will highlight current research and will make it possible for undergrads, graduate students, faculty and other researchers to present their work broadly.

Workshop: Friday, September 23

The workshop will be focused on building up the worldwide network, so it will primarily include people that have expressed interest in filling strong roles in this new endeavor. This will include the invited special speakers from the symposium and the PIs of this proposal, as well as additional people we have identified or who have self-identified while signing up for the symposium.

Field Trip: Saturday, September 24, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

We will visit two interesting sites for the ecological, planning, and design context of urban plants. This will be a bus trip leaving from New Brunswick. Wear sturdy shoes suitable for walking at field sites (no sandals, no open toes). Bring water bottles and a raincoat/umbrella. Weather can change quickly. Fieldtrip coordinator is Richard Alomar.

  • Liberty State Park is an extraordinary and unique public resource. With the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as a spectacular backdrop, it is also one of New Jersey's most dramatic parks. Liberty State Park is also an important first step of an ambitious restoration process for the Port District section of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary ecosystem restoration study, is partnering with the United States Army Corps of Engineers on this restoration project. Lead by Frank Gallagher.
  • The Hackensack Water Works in Oradell provided drinking water for North Jersey from 1882 until 1990. The complex is an exceptional example of U.S. industrialization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Filtration technology developed at this facility determined water treatment processes in the U.S. For this reason the site has been included on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. On site we will discuss the ongoing conflict between historic preservation, ecological restoration and economic feasibility of adaptive re-use. Lead by Wolfram Hoefer.

Poster session

The poster session will be at 5 PM on Sept 22 in Foran Hall lobby, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, during the reception for the symposium. There will be prizes in two categories: Best poster that is first-authored and presented by a graduate student, and by an undergraduate students, respectively. Any attendee can present one poster, but the number of posters is limited due to limited space. We will decline posters after/if the space has filled up (first come, first served?). After registering, send your poster title and a short poster abstract (200 words max) to Lena Struwe (), and indicate if you are eligible for any of the student awards. Posters should be focused on urban issues (see background information above for interest areas), and be max 4 feet wide, 3 feet tall. Of course, all participants are welcome to attend the poster session and reception, regardless of if you present a poster or not.


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

  • Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources: Lena Struwe, Myla Aronson, Lauren Frazee
  • Department of Geography: Laura Schneider
  • Department of Landscape Architecture: Wolfram Hoefer, Richard Alomar
  • Department of Plant Biology and Pathology: Lena Struwe


  • Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs
  • Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
  • Department of Geography
  • Department of Landscape Architecture

For More Information

Contact one of the organizers: