With 10 percent of the world’s tree species facing possible extinction, there is great need for organizations like The Morton Arboretum to bring more energy and focus to tree conservation. In her role, Westwood will bolster the Arboretum’s existing partnerships with the Botanic Gardens International and the Global Trees Campaign to influence and develop new research and conservation programs geared at saving tree species around the world.
The Morton Arboretum has a long history working with Chinese gardens, and Westwood will expand these and other international programs. One of her tasks will be to build successful models for conservation collections at gardens, which will serve as a form of insurance for many tree species around the world. Additionally, Westwood plans to implement a conservation program focused on oaks, trees that play an important role in the Midwest, the Americas and in China’s ecosystems, but face increasing threats.
“Conservation issues don’t follow political borders and boundaries –they affect everyone around the world, and our team looks forward to expanding our existing research to conserve trees both nationally and globally,” explained Dr. Nicole Cavender, vice president of science and conservation at The Morton Arboretum. “Murphy’s extensive experience in botany and global research will be key in expanding the Arboretum’s conservation efforts.”
A dual citizen in the United States and United Kingdom, Westwood has spent the last 10 years as a researcher at botanic gardens around the world. Her field work includes trips to Belize, Guatemala, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Before arriving at The Morton Arboretum, Westwood was an instructor of College First, a summer program for students in the Chicago Public Schools through the Chicago Botanic Garden. She also conducted research on endangered palm trees in Central America at the National History Museum in London.
Westwood has a doctorate in plant development biology from the University of Cambridge and completed postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She earned a master’s degree in advanced methods of taxonomy and biodiversity from Imperial College in London and graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Policy and Behavior in 2002.
About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world. Designed with natural landscapes, the grounds include the award-winning, four-acre interactive Children’s Garden, the one-acre Maze Garden, plus specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails and nine miles of roads. Visitor experiences include the open-air tram ride, guided walks, Arbor Day celebrations, concerts, art shows, Fall Color Festival, and special exhibits. The Arboretum welcomes more than 800,000 visitors annually and serves more than 35,600 members. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at mortonarb.org.
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