Botanical Garden expands science team with appointments of internationally renowned scholars

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The New York Botanical Garden.
Photo courtesy NYBG

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) announced Friday the addition of two leading scholars to its science division: Mauricio Diazgranados, Ph.D., will join the Botanical Garden later this spring as its chief science officer and dean of the International Plant Science Center, and Eric Sanderson, Ph.D., will serve as the inaugural vice president for Urban Conservation Strategy, beginning on March 27.

Diazgranados will lead strategic positioning and planning for NYBG’s Science Division. He joins NYBG from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London, where he serves as a research leader responsible for leading Kew’s Nature-based Solutions Initiative, which works to address environmental and societal challenges. Previously, Diazgranados was director for science at the Bogotá Botanical Garden, where he funded and led the construction of the largest greenhouse in South America.

With more than 20 years of teaching experience, including lecturing on botany and biology at several universities, Diazgranados has produced a large body of notable scholarship and is frequently invited to share his insights in presentations and talks as a guest speaker. While at Kew, Diazgranados led the development and publication of the “Catalogue of Useful Plants of Colombia and the Catalogue of Fungi of Colombia”which have quickly become highly impactful and referenced works on one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.

“I am excited at the opportunity to lead and learn from the incredible Science team at The New York Botanical Garden,” said Diazgranados. “As a scholar, I have long been interested in the profound impact of climate change on plants and natural biodiversity, and I share NYBG’s commitment to centering plants and nature-based solutions to advance global conservation.”

Sanderson will join the Garden as its first-ever vice president for Urban Conservation Strategy, a newly created role that will leverage the Garden’s scientific and public platforms to develop and propose solutions for environmental issues affecting New York City and cities across the globe. With decades of experience in conservation ecology, Sanderson comes to NYBG from the Wildlife Conservation Society, where he has worked with a team of scientists and technical experts to save wild places and natural habitats.

Sanderson has produced highly influential scholarship, including his work on the Manahatta project and the Welikia project and other notable publications, including “Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs” and “Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City’s Jamaica Bay”.

“As a scholar of New York City’s unique ecosystem, I have long admired the work and natural beauty of The New York Botanical Garden,” said Sanderson. “I am inspired to join the Garden as its first-ever Vice President for Urban Conservation Strategy and to work alongside my new colleagues, as well as decisionmakers across New York City and beyond, to address some of the most pressing environmental challenges we face.”

Consistent across Sanderson’s work is his drive to examine how nature can improve urban life and address global and local challenges, such as climate change and resilience, the obesity epidemic and even war.

“The New York Botanical Garden is firmly committed to advancing plant science and biodiversity research to better understand and protect the natural world,” said Jennifer Bernstein, chief executive officer and The William C. Steere Sr., president of NYBG. “As such, we are thrilled for Mauricio and Eric to join our NYBG team. Their experiences, expertise, and leadership will position our estimable Science program to make an even greater impact for the good of our borough, our city, and our planet.”

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