Dr. Jim Cohen, Professor of Applied Biology at Kettering University, is showcasing an often-overlooked aspect of Flint - its rich and diverse urban botanical wonders, through a locally produced podcast titled “Flint Flora.”
"I wanted to start podcasting because it's a great medium for reaching people,” Cohen said. “My hope is that teachers, especially those in Flint and Genesee County, will use the podcast to help students better understand the local flora.”
Cohen, along with his co-host and producer Stacie Sherman, delve deep into the origins and characteristics of Kentucky Coffeetree and Pokeweed among other plants during the podcast. Each episode focuses on one plant in the community and details the plant’s location, defining characteristics, and interesting features, such as unique pigments or human uses.
“I'd like the podcast to be a teaching tool to help excite students about the local flora,” Cohen said. “I talk about the location of the plants, so my hope would be that people would visit the location and look at the plants themselves. I think that focusing on an urban setting demonstrates that one doesn't need to go into the forest or a grassland to find intriguing plants; instead, there are floristic wonders hiding across Flint.”
Cohen currently teaches Biology and Ecology courses at Kettering. As a plant systematist, his research focuses on evolution, development and conservation in the family Boraginaceae. Specifically, Cohen investigates evolutionary relationships and floral development in the family. At Kettering, Cohen has been instrumental in launching a three-year, National Science Foundation sponsored, research experience for undergraduates program titled: “Utilizing Plants for Innovative Research.”
“I am a botanist because I am passionate about plants and enjoy studying them. I want to share my excitement for botany and the local flora, so when people look at plants they are as fascinated as I am,” Cohen said. “I feel like I can contribute to people having a better understanding of their flora, which reflects so much of our history and changing landscape."
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