Maria Fadiman, Ph.D., on Promotion to Professor

May, 2020

fadiman Maria Fadiman, Ph.D. has been an FAU faculty member for the past fifteen years and was promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Geosciences. Fadiman’s research involves ethnobotany, the relationship of people with plants.

What are you currently researching?

I am working in the rainforests of Latin America, specifically with indigenous people’s use of palms and sustainable collection. I am also working in the villages near Gombe National Park in Tanzania, recording and analyzing their ethnobotanical knowledge and working to keep this information alive with intergenerational workshops and book creations.

What students are you mentoring or performing research with?

I just graduated an M.S. student who was working with cultural heritage, food, and the environment. Recently I had an M.S. student who researched medicinal plants in the Ecuadorian rainforest and my most recent Ph.D. student explored culture, ethnobotany, and altitudinal correlations in Nepal. My current Ph.D. student is looking into urban beekeeping and the ecological connections. I am on various committees, and the one most progressed is working with heat islands, pollution, global climate change, and the human response.

fadiman What do you like best about FAU?

What I like best about FAU are the students. I have so many students who are working jobs, taking care of families, and going to school all at the same time. I see such motivation to earn their degrees. Furthermore, because of such varied life experiences, they bring nuanced points of view into class, keeping the courses dynamic for us all. I am so grateful to the College of Science for supporting me from the moment I arrived. My work often goes outside of the conventional College of Science disciplines and the College of Science has always fully worked to help me with my research and in getting my message out beyond academia. The Department of Geosciences has faculty that support each other. When I have a question there are so many doors on which I can knock (and I do!) and people will take time out of their day to help me sort through issues, come up with ideas and also just to talk and laugh together. I have also had chairs throughout my entire time who have guided me and encouraged me to do as well as I can in my research and my teaching.

What research are you looking forward to that you have coming up?

I am working on a grant with National Geographic as part of a team to work with local communities and their environments in Ghana. I am a collaborator on a grant just submitted to look into the medical ethnobotany with groups across the Mediterranean in areas such as Malta, Kosovo, Greece, and the Azores in Portugal.

What research have you yet to conduct that you have always wanted to pursue?

I would like to work in so many places!! I have always wanted to work with the role of flowers in Balinese ceremonies, focusing on their accessibility and sustainability. I would also like to work in Siberia with indigenous groups to learn about their use of plants for everyday living in such a challenging ecosystem. To work with the aborigines in Australia and their use of plants as a form of resistance in an effort to maintain their connection with the land is a goal. I would also like to work with the people in the outer islands of Oceania to see how plant use still connects people to the land despite colonization, and if this translates into a conservation ethic.

Read more about Maria Fadiman and her work at www.mariafadiman.com .