Illinois College and Cuba

5895065078_86682a7255What do bats, orchids, western Illinois, and Cuba have in common?
Illinois College, a small private institution in Jacksonville, is building on its relationships with Cuba by announcing partnerships with two institutions there to study bats and orchids.

“The ghost orchid that we studied in South Florida last summer — we brought the Cuban researcher to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. He and my students documented over 100 new orchid plants, and that got everybody’s attention,” says Lawrence Zettler, a biology professor at IC. “We knew Dr. (Ernesto) Mujica was good, but the fact that he found 100 additional orchids made news.”

This predates the current normalization. Zettler noted, “With warming relations, a lot of colleges and universities in the United States are positioning themselves to partner with the Cuban institutions, but Illinois College is already there, ahead of the pack.”

A signing ceremony with Soroa Botanical Garden and the University of Pinar del Rio is scheduled for January 9-10.

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