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Yota Batsaki

Yota Batsaki is the executive director of Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard research institute, museum, and historic garden located in Washington, D.C. She holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Harvard University and was previously a lecturer and fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Batsaki contributes to the research agenda of Dumbarton Oaks as principal investigator of the Plant Humanities Initiative. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this is a four-year initiative to advance the emerging field of plant humanities in close dialogue with the environmental humanities and with a focus on plant-human interactions. Batsaki leads a collaboration with JSTOR Labs to develop an open access digital platform that will highlight primary sources about plants and connect them to large databases such as Global Plants and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. She also oversees scholarly programming that brings together intergenerational teams of students and researchers to investigate and narrate important cultural histories of plants for the digital platform under development.

Cretan rockrose

Plant of the Month: Cretan Rockrose

Cretan rockrose has been used as a medicine for millennia. Its unusual harvesting methods were documented by the ancient historian Herodotus.
On the left, Heliconia tarumaensis Barreiros (with yellow bracts); on the right, Heliconia acuminata L.C. Richard (with yellow and red bracts). Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection.

Plant of the Month: Heliconia

Heliconias can distinguish among pollinators like hummingbirds and respond selectively to their visits.