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For Immediate Release: Tues., June 12

Julie LaBar
Director of Marketing and Communications
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens       
412/622-6915, ext. 3801

Ken Walters
Media Relations Manager
Duquesne University


Tropical Forest Cuba Exhibit Highlights New Phipps Conservatory and Duquesne University Partnership
Expanded research, programming and community engagement opportunities included in new cross-sector collaboration.


Pittsburgh, PAPhipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Duquesne University have joined together in a new collaboration that includes environmental research, in addition to programming, internship and engagement opportunities that will benefit students and the community as a whole. 

“Through our partnership with Duquesne University, Phipps Conservatory continues to expand its environmental research capabilities and insights,” said Richard V. Piacentini, executive director at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. “We look forward to many exciting collaboration opportunities ahead as we bring our leading organizations together.”

The Phipps-Duquesne partnership is multi-faceted, with Duquesne students, fellows, research scientists and faculty involved in a range of expansive initiatives at Phipps. Students are currently gaining hands-on experience by participating in festival event programming in Phipps’ Tropical Forest Cuba. The exhibit invites guests to take an exciting, immersive journey through one of the most botanically rich rainforest regions in the world. With new discoveries at every turn in Phipps’ impressive 12,000 square-foot, 60 foot high Conservatory, visitors will enjoy a wide variety of exotic Cuban plant species, in addition to interactive stations including a birding station featuring life-size replica carvings of endemic Cuban birds, a paladar where guests can recreate the experience of enjoying a Cuban meal in Phipps’ play café and a traditional Cuban farmacia where guests can learn about natural medicine rooted in organic farming.

“We are excited to partner with Phipps and help to bring the natural beauty and culture of Cuba to Pittsburgh,” said Dr. Philip Reeder, dean of Duquesne’s Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. “New collaboration opportunities will facilitate research between post-doctoral fellows and research scientists at Phipps and faculty in the Bayer School, place Duquesne undergraduate student interns at Phipps and provide community engaged learning opportunities for Duquesne students through special events and activities.”

Additional collaborations include:

  • Duquesne research scientists are partnering with Phipps on a scientific study of Coqui frogs, a species of small tree frogs found throughout the Caribbean islands, including in Cuba, that are also located at Phipps. The new research will study the frogs at Phipps, including key factors affecting their survival and potential impacts on insect populations.
  • Duquesne's Dr. John Pollock is developing a documentary on mindfulness, compassion and yoga which will detail how human brains and bodies manage significant trauma and pain, including Phipps in the new film.
  • Duquesne researchers and students are participating in “Meet a Scientist” days at Phipps, recently giving guests the opportunity to meet with Duquesne Ph.D. candidate Michelle Valkanas to learn about her ground-breaking research studies. 


About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Phipps commemorates its 125th anniversary throughout 2018, celebrating its historic past, vibrant present and exciting future ahead — including inspiring seasonal flower shows, community events, public programs and groundbreaking green innovation. 

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