LISLE, Ill. (Sept. 4, 2023)—The Morton Arboretum’s Vice President of Science and Conservation, Murphy Westwood, Ph.D., was honored among Crain’s Chicago Business 2023 Notable Women in STEM, presented in its September 4 edition.
The recognition profiles top women leaders in the Chicago area making an impact in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math. Westwood has been a science educator as well as a researcher, and currently oversees 50 scientists and conservationists at the Arboretum, including key research and urban forestry programs, and an herbarium.
“Murphy strengthens The Morton Arboretum’s leadership in local, national, and global tree science and conservation,” said Arboretum President and CEO Jill Koski. “Her contributions to tree research have had a significant impact on moving tree science forward,” Koski added.
She led a landmark study on the state of trees in the contiguous United States that was the culmination of five years of research by The Morton Arboretum, Botanic Gardens Conservation International-US, and NatureServe, in partnership with the U.S. Botanic Garden and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Westwood then worked to advance the study’s actionable recommendations through the Arboretum’s Global Tree Conservation Program and leadership of the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak. The study was hailed for laying the groundwork for U.S. tree conservation efforts that will contribute to achieving international conservation goals.
In addition, Westwood led a coalition of 10 institutions that discovered Quercus tardifolia, an oak thought to be extinct, recognized as crucial to understanding and preserving tree biodiversity and informing conservation efforts, and continues to oversee work to identify and preserve this species. She coordinated the Arboretum’s Centennial Tree Planting Initiative, planting more than 3,000 trees across the Chicago region in 2022 and early 2023, and received the American Public Gardens Association Program Excellence Award for her leadership of ArbNet, the international network of arboreta, over the past eight years.
Westwood is active and influential in the public garden and plant conservation professional communities, including involvement on the International Union for conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Tree Specialist Group, Board of Directors of Botanic Gardens Conservation International-US, Board of Directors of Polly Hill Arboretum (Martha’s Vineyard, MA), the Oak Conservation and Research Committee of The International Oak Society, and the Scientific and Education Committee of the International Dendrology Society.