Video by Brianne Lehan and Lyon Duong/UF Photography. Artwork: "Paradise 14 Yakushima/Japan" by Thomas Struth, 1999, museum purchase, gift of Dr. and Mrs. David A. Cofrin
distinguished professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History; director, UF Biodiversity Institute
distinguished professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History and UF Department of Biology
Understanding how we and other species fit into the interconnected web of life on Earth can hold the key to preventing disease, developing new medicines and predicting the impacts of climate change. That’s why Pam and Doug Soltis — members of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — and their collaborators have created a Tree of Life that maps the relationships between all living things.
Beyond its potential to advance science, the Soltises (sometimes referred to by colleagues as the Solti) wanted to take the Tree of Life to the general public as well, so they worked with Rob Guralnick, Associate Curator of Informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History, as well as international artist Naziha Mestaoui and UF College of the Arts professor James Oliverio to visualize how all life is connected.
“One of the things we find really motivating is the opportunity to bring science and the arts together,” Pam says. “It would be great if people get excited about the beauty of biodiversity and start to work toward preserving and appreciating what we have on this planet.”
This is part of a series highlighting people at the University of Florida working to protect our well-being and the health of the planet, paired with works from the Harn Museum of Art exhibition “The World to Come: Art in the Age of the Anthropocene.” See the full series.