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FIU breaks ground on International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong

FIU breaks ground on International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong

December 17, 2019 at 1:09pm

FIU has broken ground on the International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong, an innovative collaboration between FIU and the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

The new facility will be a home for researchers to advance botanical research including the preservation of tree canopies, reducing toxic algal blooms, mitigating sea level threats, improving pollination, combatting plant extinction, discovering new species, supporting sustainable farming and identifying new plant-derived medicines.

In 2014, FIU created ICTB in partnership with the National Tropical Botanical Garden to address environmental challenges including food insecurity, biodiversity loss and climate change. The Kampong is the historic home of famed plant explorer David Fairchild and one of South Florida’s original botanical research centers. Today, The Kampong is a living history of Fairchild’s work with more than 1,000 species of fruit trees, palms, ethnobotanical plants and teaching collections for botanical study.

A landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, The Kampong features one of the five botanical gardens that make up the National Tropical Botanical Garden and is the only one in the continental United States.

“Over the past 100 years, The Kampong has had a rich history,” said Kenneth G. Furton, FIU provost and executive vice president. “Being able to operate the ICTB out of the Kampong over the last few years has deepened our commitment to plant conservation and exploration. We are preserving Dr. Fairchild's legacy through research and education that will benefit the environment, and ultimately improve people’s lives.”

The new research building will be LEED-certified and blend with other Coconut Grove architecture. It will complement the other buildings at The Kampong and provide lab and meeting spaces to further ICTB’s mission of environmental conservation.

“The work we are doing here is ultimately about saving plants, saving lives and improving our overall quality of life,” said ICTB Director Chris Baraloto, an associate professor of Biological Sciences. “We know this facility will be a tremendous resource in the Coconut Grove community, and provide groundbreaking research with global implications.”

While the primary focus is on research and graduate education, Baraloto said he also plans to host lectures once a month featuring globally recognized scientists that will share important botanical research with graduate students, faculty, and the community.

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