Orchid Conservation Research in Southern Ecuador

SUMMER 2023

Jerry Yu

My research pack abroad experience was in Ecuador at the Orquideario of the Universidad de Cuenca, the major public lab with a focus on Orchid Conservation in Southern Ecuador.¬† My research project tested two levels of auxin and the presence or absence of supplemental lighting on the health and rooting of two genera of tropical orchids in tissue culture. The experiment contributed valuable insights to the Orquideario, helping them determine the optimal lighting conditions for their new lab. Through my project, I felt a sense of accomplishment and comradery with Dr. Cazar ,the PI, and the team at the Orquideario, knowing my efforts will ultimately benefit crucial orchid conservation efforts in Ecuador. Beyond my experiment, I tissue cultured dozens of Orchid genera, ¬†inventoried all the orchids in tissue culture, and collected orchids in Ecuador’s mesmerizing Amazonian region. I also got the opportunity to network with Horticulture professionals and visit 2 national parks. These experiences exposed me to an entirely different culture, and deepened my appreciation for the tremendous cultural and biological diversity of Ecuador. I fell in love with the country – it’s perfect weather, hospitable people, laid back culture, and diverse landscapes that allowed me to traverse from the highlands of Scotland to the arid valleys of Nevada within an hours’ drive. My work and interactions during this Research Pack Abroad trip has inspired me to continue pursuing my passion for horticulture, and possibly return to Ecuador for my senior project.