The Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts Science Cafe, a series of informal science based talks that encourage the public to engage with speakers on important topics. This years series focuses on pollinators and their conservation, and highlights several important pollinator related projects and the researchers behind them.
Today we highlight the presentation given on July 10th 2016 by Dr. Karen Bell who is currently in a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University where she is developing methods for DNA metabarcoding of pollen. This research is being applied primarily to forensic palynology , but also to address questions in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Karen’s enthusiastic and informative talk was well received by the audience, and became a great interactive platform for conversation about palynology, forensics, DNA barcoding, and DNA metabarcoding. Her talk highlighted the abilities of DNA Barcoding and metabarcoding to easily and rapidly identify pollen grains, a task which fewer and fewer trained experts are able to achieve expediently. Bell also highlighted other important applications for the technology such as forensic paleontology, biosecurity, product verification, border security, and allergen monitoring.
Bell and her research associates are one of very few people in the world currently developing this technology for its use on pollen, so it was a unique opportunity for the Science Cafe audience to be able to listen to her speak on such novel research. Looking toward the future, Bell hopes that the DNA barcoding and DNA metabarcoding of pollen can continue to have real world regulatory applications such as forensic palyonolgy and border protection, but also be used to investigate and broaden our understanding of pollinator networks.
Some more about Dr. Karen Bell
Co-blogged by GAPP + Jataysia Daniels, Greening Youth Foundation & Atlanta Botanical Garden Conservation Intern!