PHA supports research associates selected for expertise that helps advance our mission.
Melissa Dow Cullina is an outstanding field botanist with expertise on rare plant species in Massachusetts. A former botanist for the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), part of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, she continues to consult with NHESP on special projects. She will assist the Arboretum with our Conservator database as we work to document and study the flora of Martha’s Vineyard. Melissa has a master’s degree in plant ecology from the University of Maine, Orono, and a bachelor’s degree in forest biology from the University of Vermont.
Dr. David R. Foster is Director of the Harvard Forest, a 3,000-acre ecological research site and one of the oldest and most intensively studied forests in North America, Foster is an internationally recognized forest ecologist. His research projects focus primarily on New England forests.
Recently HarvardForest was awarded $100,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the catastrophic death of oaks in forests on Martha’s Vineyard. Foster and his students began their studies, hosted by the Arboretum, and will investigate the pattern and cause of the oak mortality and the short and long-term changes to forest ecosystems in the Arboretum woodlands and the adjacent Frances Newhall Woods Preserve.
We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with Foster and his team from Harvard Forest. Through this collaboration we hope to gain perspectives on Island-wide woodland conservation to share with other conservation groups and the public.
Mathew Lobdell, a native of Martha’s Vineyard, began his association with the Arboretum in 2006 with a summer internship, and later became our first collections management intern. Matt worked as horticulturist for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in Boston before enrolling in a master’s program at the University of Delaware to further his interest in plant science. He graduated with an M.S. degree in 2013 and is currently employed as a research assistant at the Moore Farms Botanical Garden in Lake City, South Carolina. Matt notes, “I first gained an appreciation for botany and horticulture when taking an internship at the Polly Hill Arboretum in my hometown of West Tisbury, Massachusetts, in the summer of 2006. Since then, I’ve been working towards a career in publich horticulutre, specifically focusing in on botanic garden curation.”
Shigeto Tsukie joined PHA as research associate in 2006 with his primary work to research the Flora of Japan and to assist in our seed collection trips there. Shigeto received a degree in floriculture from ChibaUniversity and went on to study abroad. He attended The Royal Horticultural Garden’s program at Wisley, studied the flora of Chile, and spent a year at LongwoodGardens in the DelawareValley. He is an accomplished author, photographer and plantsman. Equally important is his knowledge of Japanese Flora and his connections to his fellow Japanese horticulturalists. As Shigeto notes, “ I was born into a family who run garden centers and have had plants around me since childhood. It was natural for me to later pursue a career as a horticulturalist”. Currently he runs his own landscape design and garden consulting business, PLANTAS. He has also led several plant collecting expeditions in Japan, including our most recent 2005 and 2007 trips. We are excited to have Shigeto join our team and continue Polly’s tradition of connecting with the plants and people of Japan.