Pilon, Cuba

My graduate research focuses on the systematics of the Neotropical genus Plumeria L. (Apocynaceae), a charismatic tree or shrub commonly known as Frangipani. Plumeria is an ornamental garden plant that occurs throughout the Caribbean Islands. Although several species are common in tropical gardens worldwide, many wild growing species are not present anywhere in horticulture. The Caribbean Islands, where these species of Plumeria occur, are a hotspot of biodiversity and a prime focus for conservation efforts. Classification studies of threatened plants such as this one provide a framework for what and where to conserve. Resolving the confusing taxonomy of the Caribbean species of Plumeria will unveil wild varieties currently not in cultivation, and help target areas for conservation. My work combines molecular phylogenetics, morphological and anatomical studies with the goal of creating the first phylogeny and an updated classification for the genus.