DATE: Saturday, May 31, 2008
TIME: 3:00 PM-4:00 PM
VENUE: New York Botanical Garden
MODERATOR: Carl Zimmer
PARTICIPANTS: Robert Goodman, Peter Pringle, Edward Toth

Nearly 100 years ago, Russian geneticist Nikolai Vavilov — recognized today as the “father of biodiversity” — created the world’s first seed bank with the dream of ending famine and hunger. Persecuted by Stalin, Vavilov was thrown into a Communist jail and died before he could enact his grand vision, but his groundbreaking discoveries triggered a global revolution in agriculture that continues today.

Peter Pringle, acclaimed journalist and author of The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov, joined Robert Goodman, Executive Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, to explore strategies for ensuring the survival of the planet’s botanical heritage in the face of potentially catastrophic global threats. Award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer moderated.

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Science Writer

Award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer explores the frontiers of biology in his writing. His work appears regularly in The New York Times and many magazines, and he is the author of twelve books, including A Planet of Viruses.

Zimmer is a contributing editor and columnist for Discover, and his blog, The Loom, appears on the magazine’s web site. He has won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Journalism Award twice, in 2004 and 2009.


Executive Dean at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

A plant biologist and virologist by training, Robert Goodman is a world authority on soil microorganisms and plant disease. His recent research explores the diversity of microorganisms in soil, and their resistance to cultivation.


Peter Pringle is author of The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov and co-author of nine previous books. His book, Food Inc., traced the history of biotech agriculture. The former Moscow bureau chief for The Independent, he has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and The Nation.

Director of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center

A leading authority on landscape management and plant conservation, Edward Toth is Director of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, which collects and raises specimens of New York’s indigenous flora and maintains a seed bank for preservation of local species. He has written extensively on ecological management of urban natural areas.