Network News

October 6, 2023

In this issue:
Early Career Researcher Mini-Conference
April 29 – May 2, 2024

Held in conjunction with the American Rhododendron Society 2024 Annual Convention, the mini-conference will foster a supportive environment for intellectual and career development of early career researchers and provide a chance for community-building and information sharing among Rhododendron researchers of all career stages.

  • Share and discuss your research with other Rhododendron scientists
  • Attend Career Development Workshops
    • Mentorship
    • Collaborations
    • Community Science
    • Outreach
  • Present a poster of your research to scientists and the public
  • Enjoy networking and social activities
Register by February 2nd, 2024 

Poster Session
May 2, 3 & 4, 2024
As part of The American Rhododendron Society 2024 Convention the Rhododendron Research Network will host a Poster Session. We welcome posters describing any project on Rhododendron, including research, horticulture, education, conservation, citizen science, plant exploration, if you did a project concerning Rhododendron, we want to hear about it!
Poster Contributors should submit name, email, poster title, and a brief summary describing their project by February 1, 2024.

Funding is available to support student and early career professionals to attend and present a poster.

Information and submission forms: 
Are you a scientist wondering...
what else is going on at the 2024 ARS Convention?

Members of the American Rhododendron Society are a diverse group of plant enthusiasts including scientists, conservationists, gardeners, educators, and everything in between. This conference provides unique interdisciplinary networking opportunities, drawing people who work in many areas of Rhododendron. Experts on Rhododendron from around the world will provide in-depth talks and workshops, giving even the most devoted Rhododendron researchers an opportunity to learn something new and identify new research collaborations.

Our poster session will provide a great venue to convey your research to scientists and non-scientists alike who have a deep interest in the genus. Social mixers and tours of public and private gardens in the local area highlight social and cultural importance of Rhododendron and provide the opportunity to network and share knowledge across disciplines. In addition, members of the ARS Rhododendron Research Network will convene for working groups to discuss collaboration and networking specifically of interest to researchers.

To learn more about and get updates on the 2024 convention please visit
Submit your Research Articles to Rhododendrons International

We are seeking article submissions for a Special Issue of Rhododendrons International focused on Rhododendron Research. This online open access journal publishes articles on all aspects of Rhododendron for a broad audience, meaning that your work will be accessible to people in different scientific disciplines and to the general public.

Our first special issue on this topic can be found HERE, and we are proud to say this issue has garnered over 2100 reads to date on ResearchGate.

Participant expectations include: craft a short, informative report (<4000 words) highlighting research in rhododendron, including major findings, how the general public might use or benefit from the study results, along with the next steps suggested by this work. Use language accessible to a general audience. Deadline for submission has been extended to July, 2024. Expected publication late 2024. 
Research funded in 2023 by the Research Foundation

Diversity and conservation of Rhododendrons in the threatened areas of northern Buru Island, Maluku
Prima Hutabarat, M.Sc.

Project Summary: This project will search for new species and populations of Rhododendron in the mountainous regions of the Island of Buru, Indonesia. The Buru forests are considered a distinct ecosystem due to remarkable biodiversity, which includes an unusual mix of species from Asia and Australia. Researchers will resurvey locations investigated in the 1960’s by Sleumer and in 2015 by Argent, with the main goal of providing data on the conservation status of plants identified in those earlier expeditions such as R. impressopunctatum and R. toxopei. Additional locations that have not been visited since the early 1900s will be surveyed, especially at higher elevations where the terrain is steep and difficult to access.

Research Biography: Prima Wahyu Kusuma Hutabarat completed his M.Sc. in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants at the University of Edinburgh in 2019. His research interest included plant systematics and conservation, particularly in the Ericaceae and Sapotaceae family. He has been working as a researcher since 2015 in Bogor Botanic Gardens, now continuing his passion at the Research Center for Biosystematics and Evolution of The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) in Indonesia. Prima has implemented research in plant systematic and conservation of some Indonesian native and endemic plant taxa and involved in several botanical expeditions in Indonesia. Prima is a member of the Indonesian Society for Plant Taxonomy (PTTI) and Indonesian Genetic and Biodiversity Community (IGBC). He is also active in IUCN Red List conservation status assessments for Indonesian plants.
Submit your proposal by January 15, 2024
Research Proposals
2024 will mark the 34th year of The Research Foundation funding program, which has supported 163 Rhododendron research projects in 15 different countries, covering every area of Rhododendron research. Will your project be the next one funded?

Learn about research projects funded in the past HERE
Apply for a grant HERE
Support The Research Foundation HERE 
Greer Conference Award
The Harold Greer Memorial Conference Award from the Research Foundation of the American Rhododendron Society will fund individuals who are currently pursuing or have recently received a degree in horticulture or botanical sciences to attend the 2024 Convention and make a poster presentation of their projects related to Rhododendron. This award is made in honor of noted plantsman and Rhododendron expert Harold Greer, who championed education and student support in addition to his immeasurable contribution to Rhododendron horticulture.

We will make 5 awards to support convention attendance for poster presenters at the 2024 convention. The application period will be open from December 1, 2023-January 15, 2024. Awards will consist of complementary conference registration, food and lodging for April 29-May 5, and a travel stipend.

For more information about the travel award and how to apply

Dr. Erik Nilsen receives prestigious Pioneer Achievement Award
Dr. Erik Nilsen has been chosen as this year's recipient of the American Rhododendron Society's Pioneer Achievement Award. The Pioneer Award recognizes pioneering and original achievement in the advancement of Rhododendron. 

With a career that spans almost 50 years, Dr. Erik Nilsen has made a substantial contribution to our scientific understanding of Rhododendron stress physiology. As an author or co-author on 39 peer-reviewed scientific articles on Rhododendron which have collectively earned over 1350 citations, Dr. Nilsen has the distinction of being the most prolific and most cited author in the history of Rhododendron research. Dr. Nilsen's research has drawn attention from the broader scientific community to Rhododendron as an important study system in plant physiology and opened new avenues of investigation into unusual Rhododendron leaf features like thermonasty and ideoblasts. The American Rhododendron Society thanks Dr. Nilsen for his life-long commitment to Rhododendron research, and his joyful sharing of that information with the scientific community and Rhododendron enthusiasts alike.
Do you know someone who deserves to be honored for their lifetime contribution to Rhododendron?

The American Rhododendron Society Research Committee is currently accepting recommendations for future Pioneer Award nominees. The Research Committee Chair will work with members of the Rhododendron Research Network to identify one person to nominate in each award cycle, with a goal of highlighting the most impactful and innovative researchers from across the global Rhododendron research community. The Committee will consider all recommendations for nominees, including self recommendations. Recommenders should provide details concerning the activities warranting recognition and name 5-6 individuals who can provide letters of support for the nomination. Completed nomination packets, including all letters of support, are submitted in early November of each year by the Research Committee Chair to the ARS Awards Committee, with award presentations being made either remotely or in person at the ARS Convention the following Spring.

To recommend someone please contact Dr. Juliana Medeiros at 
To find out about past Pioneer Award winners please visit 
Publication Highlights
Ploidy variation in Rhododendron subsection Maddenia and its implications for conservation

Hu L, Tate JA, Gardiner SE, and M MacKay
AoB PLANTS 15(3): plad016

Hu and colleagues used flow cytometry to estimate ploidy for 47 taxa in Rhododendron Subsection Maddenia and found that all species were diploid except for the R. maddenii complex, which they show includes diploids and various polyploidy levels. The authors suggest that ploidy variation likely complicates the resolution of species within the R. maddenii complex and could be a factor driving the broad geographic distribution of Subsection Maddenia

The authors also conducted a literature survey of ploidy variation across the entirety of genus Rhododendron, showing that polyploidy is present in all lineages, with polyploids representing 22% of the 424 species measured to date. Their analysis demonstrates that subgenera Pentanthera and Rhododendron have the highest proportion of polyploid species, but they urge caution in this conclusion as there are no published records of ploidy level for 69% of Rhododendron taxa.

Lastly, the authors compared results obtained from different methods and tissue types, providing evidence that conducting flow cytometry on developing stamens in flower buds provides highly accurate results combined with low cost and ease of use. Having low cost, easy methods will be critical to conducting large scale ploidy surveys that are needed to fine tune our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships and genetic diversity within Subsection Maddenia, and thereby set realistic and impactful conservation objectives. 

Photo: Rhododendron maddenii subsp. crassum at Caerhayes Castle gardens in Cornwall, England, Wikimedia Commons
Do you want to see your publication highlighted in our newsletter?

This newsletter is delivered to Rhododendron researchers all around the world, and we'd love to share your publications with our newsletter subscribers. Simply send an email with the PDF of your paper along with a photo or figure to:
Dr. Juliana Medeiros at 
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