Campus oasis offers opportunity

Nestled between the parking lot and Life Sciences, there are two greenhouses used by IU Southeast students and professors


Callie Manias

The IUS greenhouse, located right beside the Life Sciences building.

Callie Manias, Staff Reporter

Filled with cacti, flowering plants, orchids and fish tanks, the IUS greenhouses will immediately make a student forget he or she is on a college campus. The controlled greenhouses are a unique spot for students and faculty to house research projects and learn more in-depth about different sciences.

Intro biology courses and upper level plant science courses are among the classes that use the main greenhouse for class and individual research projects.

There are two greenhouses and one smaller greenhouse only used by faculty, so they can have a very controlled environment for research.

Daughtery has enjoyed taking care of the main greenhouse for over two years and said the greenhouse provides great opportunities for IU Southeast students. Photo by Callie Manias.
Daughtery has enjoyed taking care of the main greenhouse for over two years and said the greenhouse provides great opportunities for IU Southeast students.

Josh Daughtery, environmental sustainability and regeneration senior, maintains the greenhouse as part of his work-study position. He said that it has been great being part of the greenhouse in that way for the past two and a half years.

Daughtery maintains the greenhouse by taking care of watering and fertilizing the plants three days a week. He also takes care of plants that are inside the Life Sciences building.

Inside the Greenhouse

“[There are] a wide variety of plants. One side is kept dryer and has cacti, and there are even carnivorous plants,” Daughtery said.
Douglas Darnowski, associate professor of biology, said the large collections of succulents and orchids make the IU Southeast greenhouse unique.

Adding to that, Darnowski said that there is a large flowering vanilla bean orchid in the greenhouse, which has natural vanilla that comes from the seed pods of the plant.

Darnowski supervises the students who water and grow plants for his classes.

“We frequently visit it and or use it for student projects, and I grow carnivorous plants, in part for my research, there,” Darnowski said.

IU Southeast has had a greenhouse since the campus moved to Grant Line Road in 1973. The main greenhouse was rebuilt in 2000.

Today, the greenhouse “has many automated controls such as opening the top when it is hot, turning on coolers or heaters as necessary,” according to David Taylor, professor of biology.

Beyond the Books

Before Darnowski started overseeing the greenhouse, Taylor oversaw the greenhouse for about 20 years.  When Taylor came to IU Southeast in 1991, the main greenhouse existed with a collection of plants, including a large cycad in the back that is still there today.

The greenhouse lets biology and plant science students learn more in a more hands-on and interactive way.

“One opportunity is caring for the plants and getting experience in horticulture. Another is using the plants to prepare for biology laboratories,” Taylor said.

Even though Taylor does not supervise the greenhouse anymore, he still uses the plants for his teaching labs, including summer flowering plants.

Beyond going to the greenhouse for classes, some students use it for his or her own research on plants.

“While not used by the lower level biology classes very much, a lot of the plants that are used for phylogeny and some plant science experiments are housed there. Also, upper level plant science classes use it for their research and projects,” Daughtery said.

The greenhouse stays locked since there are always many plants being grown and researched. Since students and faculty do semester long projects in there, other people cannot just go in the greenhouse at any time.

Future of the Greenhouse

Daughtery is graduating in May and will no longer be maintaining the greenhouse. Madison Reff, biology senior, will be taking over the greenhouse.

“I am very excited to take over the position. I think this will be a great opportunity to learn more about plants,” Reff said.

She said that the greenhouse is great for research and she has already learned so much from taking a class with Darnowski. In Plant Physiology, they used a variety of plants from the greenhouse almost daily.

Reff has learned a lot about the greenhouse already from Daughtery and is eager to learn more.

“The greenhouse is a great opportunity for current and future students,” Reff said.