Night of Ideas



Christopher Baraloto

Associate Director, Institute of Environment of FIU

Chris’ research focuses on tropical botany, community ecology and conservation. He works in sites across the Amazon and Guiana Shield seeking to understand the factors controlling plant species distributions, and the impacts of global change on forest structure and biodiversity. He has collected more than 5000 herbarium specimens distributed in collections throughout the world, and he has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. His lab works closely regional government agencies and NGOs to improve forest management and biodiversity conservation, and he serves as a scientific advisor to committees for natural reserve design and management in five countries across the Amazon region.


Laurent Jean-Pierre


Educating on Botanics, a Way of Resistance to the Exploitation of Nature and the Cultural Uprooting

Laurent Jean-Pierre’s work with Local Communities, on the island of St. Lucia, and the wider Caribbean spans over three decades. Being an ethnobotanist (Anthropology and Biology) by training, his skills have been engaged in facilitating the sustainable development of the Local Communities.
In essence, his work bridges the gap or is a conduit between the traditional and conventional knowledge. It involves food security, sustainability; benefit sharing, plant identification/taxonomy, Traditional Knowledge documentation, translating the importance of conservation of biodiversity in the local Kwéyòl language, including invasive species, medicinal plant research, plants and people relationship, biocultural heritage, biodiversity, and so on.
In addition, he has represented the Local Communities and the FRC (Folk Research Centre), TRAMIL (Traditional Medicines of the Islands) and CAPSICUM, St. Lucia, (Caribbean Association for the Plant Science, Industry, Commerce and Use in Medicine). These NGO’s are working with the local communities. Laurent Jean-Pierre is also a farmer and member of the Local Community of Bexon and Monchy itself.


Casey Zap

Founder and Creative Director at The Center for Subtropical Affairs

Educating on Botanics, a Way of Resistance to the Exploitation of Nature and the Cultural Uprooting

Casey has had a long career in music, event, and film, producing concerts at venues across New York City and Miami for over 20 years. Horticulture, soil biology, and mycology were an unlikely turn. Casey’s passion ultimately led him to founding the Center for Subtropical Affairs to share with his community and continue the process of learning from nature. More specifically, he began diving into the science behind fungi – and how plants talk to each other – and thinking of nature as a collaborative system.

Since its inception, the Center for Subtropical Affairs has partnered with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Million Orchid Project, Nature Links for Lifelong Learning, Urban GreenWorks, and the BioTECH High School in Richmond Heights.

Courtesy of World Red Eye

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