SCIENCE & conservation

Murphy Westwood, Director of Global Tree Conservation

Murphy Westwood

Murphy Westwood, Director of Global Tree Conservation, is responsible for the Global Trees Conservation program at The Morton Arboretum. The mission of this program is to save trees from extinction through global collaborations. To achieve this mission, The Morton Arboretum is developing close partnerships with botanical gardens in China, Europe, and Mexico, as well as throughout the United States, to work as a global community of gardens focused on protecting threatened trees. Murphy is a Global Tree Conservation Officer for Botanic Gardens Conservation International and works to build support for the Global Trees Campaign, the only international conservation program dedicated to saving the world’s tree species. One of Murphy’s key initiatives with the Global Trees Campaign is to compile a global threat assessment for the world’s oak trees, an IUCN Red List of Oaks. In addition to developing and implementing the Global Trees Conservation strategy, Murphy is a facilitator of ArbNet, the interactive community of arboreta, for which she manages the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and develops resources and content for the ArbNet website.


PhD, Plant Developmental Biology, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
MS, Advanced Methods in Taxonomy and Biodiversity, Imperial College London (United Kingdom)
BS, Environmental Policy and Behavior, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


Murphy has an extensive background in plant biology, evolution, and conservation, having worked in botanical gardens in Europe and America for over ten years. She has published numerous articles on plant systematics, evolution, morphological development, and conservation.  She has presented her research and program initiatives to a diverse range of audiences at dozens of conferences, symposia, workshops, and seminars in eight countries. She has taught over 400 hours of undergraduate plant science, ecology, and evolution courses and mentored many students as they pursued science-related degrees. Murphy is a member of the IUCN Global Tree Specialist Group and a certified IUCN Red List global assessor.


The Three Rarest Trees
The Morton Arboretum's Tree Conservation Specialist Murphy Westwood, PhD, discusses the three most threatened trees in The Arboretum's collection.


The Global Tree Conservation Program at The Morton Arboretum
Murphy Westwood's talk about the Global Tree Conservation Program at The Morton Arboretum. She Introduces the concept of threatened species and explains how the Arboreutm determines the threat level of a species. She used a world tour of threatened tree species to illustrate some of the Arboretum's key conservation initiatives under the Global Tree Conservation Program. WATCH the talk

WBEZ's Wordlview: Preserving Biodiversity with Seed Banks 

Learn about how seed banks work to preserve plant diversity.  HEAR THE INTERVIEW >

EcoMyths: Seeds Never Expire 

Explore how different species behave in seed banks.  READ THE ARTICLE >



Cavender, N., M. Westwood, C. Bechtoldt, G. Donnelly, S. Oldfield, M. Gardner, D. Rae, W. McNamara. In press. Strengthening the conservation value of ex situ tree collections. Oryx.

Xu, J., M. Deng, X. Jiang, M. Westwood, Y. Song, R. Turkington. In press. Phylogeography of Quercus glauca (Fagaceae), a dominant tree of East Asian subtropical evergreen forests, based on three chloroplast DNA interspace sequences. Tree Genetics & Genomes.

Brockington, S., R. Alvarez-Fernandez, J. Landis, K. Alcorn, R. Walker, M. Thomas, L. Hileman, B. Glover. 2013. Evolutionary analysis of the MIXTA gene family highlights potential targets for the study of cellular differentiation. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30: 526-540.

Vignolini, S. and M. Thomas (joint first authors), M. Kolle, T. Wenzel, A. Rowland, P. Rudall, J. Baumberg, B. Glover, U. Steiner. 2012. Directional scattering from the glossy flower of Ranunculus: how the buttercup lights up your chin. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 9: 1295-1301.

Bateman, R., E. Bradshaw, D. Devey, B. Glover, S. Malmgren, G. Sramkó, M. Thomas, P. Rudall. 2011. Species arguments: clarifying competing concepts of species delimitation in the pseudo-copulatory orchid genus Ophrys. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 165: 336-347.

Bradshaw, E., P. Rudall, D. Devey, M. Thomas, B. Glover, R. Bateman. 2010. Comparative labellum micromorphology of the sexually deceptive temperate orchid genus Ophrys: diverse epidermal cell types and multiple origins of structural colour. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 162: 504-540.

Thomas, M., P. Rudall, A. Ellis, V. Savolainen, B. Glover. 2009. Development of a complex floral trait: the pollinator attracting petal spots of the beetle daisy, Gorteria diffusa (Asteraceae). American Journal of Botany 96: 2184-2196.

Cibrian-Jaramillo, A., C. Bacon, N. Garwood, R. Bateman, M. Thomas, S. Russell, C. Bailey, W. Hahn, S. Bridgewater, R. DeSalle. 2009. Population genetics of the understory fishtail palm Chamaedorea ernesti-augustii in Belize: high genetic connectivity with local differentiation. BMC Genetics 10:65.

Thomas, M., N. Garwood, W. Baker, S. Henderson, S. Russell, D. Hodel, R. Bateman. 2006. Molecular phylogeny of the palm genus Chamaedorea based on the low-copy nuclear genes PRK and RPB2. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38: 398-415.

Curriculum vitae

PDF iconM Westwood Morton CV 2015-10.pdf