Dr. Emily Sessa, New York Botanical Garden
Ferns in Focus: Understanding fern responses to climate change and mass extinction
Ferns are critical components of Earth’s botanical biodiversity but their importance is often overlooked. They can play vital roles as ecosystem engineers and have long been recognized for their role as pioneer or “disaster” taxa following major environmental upheaval. This talk will focus on the gametophyte phase of the life cycle and will explore two aspects of fern responses to environmental change, including how polyploidy may mediate fern responses to current climate change, and how ferns recovered following the K-Pg asteroid impact 65 million years ago.
Emily Sessa is the Patricia K. Holmgren Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium at the New York Botanical Garden. She is a botanist and plant systematist whose research focuses on the ecology and evolution of ferns and lycophytes. She earned her B.A. in Ecology and EvolutionaryBiology from Cornell University in 2005 and her Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. After a year of postdoctoral training in plant genomics at the University of Arizona, she joined the faculty of the Biology Department at the University of Florida in 2013, where she received tenure in 2019. In August 2022, she moved home to New York to join the leadership team at the New York Botanical Garden. She continues to conduct research on fern systematics, historical biogeography, and responses to environmental change.