As an intern with the dynamic trio of the Office of Sustainability, The College of Pharmacy, and the Field Museum of Natural History, my primary duty in the spring consists of mainly preliminary research and acclimation to the field of botany with hands on activities in the Field Museum herbarium and the medicinal plants garden. In particular, my research focused on anti-diabetic properties of plants. With our large synthetic knowledge in chemistry and medicine today, natural medicine tends to be the underdog. What a lot of us fail to realize however, is that many of our amazing modern drugs and chemicals are based on knowledge gained from studying natural products. Medicine and healthcare are booming industries that factor into global health impacts, which are major drivers of holistic sustainability. By undertaking this research, I am not only learning some advanced biology and basic botany, but also contributing to recognition of ethnobotany and environmental preservation as it pertains to medicinal species. One of the coolest things I get to do in my internship is in fact take part in the handling and identification of plants specimens and explore the integrative research center at the Field Museum. It’s an amazing experience! This internship will make UIC even more sustainable by 1) raising awareness through education and literally making our campus a little greener and 2) sequestering by introducing new promising and at risk plant species of medicinal importance into the College of Pharmacy’s Atkins Garden.
By: Kenneth Booker