Members’ meetings

Plants, Bugs, and Molecules
Speaker: Greti Séquin
Wednesday, November 15, 7:30 pm
Location: Garden Room, Orinda Public Library (directions below)

Plants and insects communicate in numerous ways, and chemistry plays a key role in these communications. Natural compounds determine whether a plant is consumed by insects or avoided by them, or which insects may pollinate its flowers. Some insects have learned to use plant compounds as their own defenses, and some plants digest insects as nutritional supplements. Plant-insect interactions are vital for our food supply, for pollination of orchards, and for the production of honey and silk. They can also be destructive in insect infestations of crops.

Greti Séquin (shown collecting in the photo above) will introduce the subject of her new book, The Chemistry of Plants and Insects: Plants, Bugs, and Molecules. With her enthusiastic and accessible way of connecting chemistry with plants and insects, she presents organic compounds in a motivating, understandable context that captures the interest of people who would like a deeper understanding of the natural world. Her presentation and book are aimed at non-chemists who enjoy observing plants and insects during walks in the outdoors or while visiting botanical gardens and other nature areas. There will be a few copies of The Chemistry of Plants and Insects: Plants, Bugs, and Molecules available for purchase after the presentation ($35, cash or check only).

Greti (Margareta) Séquin has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, with emphasis on natural products, from the University of Basel, Switzerland. After postdoctoral work at Princeton University she has been teaching organic chemistry, natural products chemistry, and chemistry for non-majors at San Francisco State University for more than 20 years. As a plant enthusiast, with great interest in the insect world as well, she has been a docent at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley, California, for the last 20 years. She has led numerous field seminars at botanical gardens and at nature preserves, teaching about plant chemistry. She is dedicated to making organic chemistry accessible by combining it with the natural world. Greti Séquin is the author of The Chemistry of Plants: Perfumes, Pigments, and Poisons, published by RSC (Cambridge, UK) in 2012, and The Chemistry of Plants and Insects: Plants, Bugs, and Molecules, (RSC, 2017).

East Bay CNPS membership meetings are free of charge and open to everyone. This month’s meeting takes place in the Garden Room of the Orinda Public Library at 26 Orinda Way (in Orinda Village). The Garden Room is on the second floor of the building, accessible by stairs or an elevator. The Garden Room opens at 7 pm; the meeting begins at 7:30 pm. Email or call 510-496-6016 if you have questions.

Directions to Orinda Public Library at 26 Orinda Way

From the west, take Hwy 24 to the Orinda/Moraga exit. At the end of the off ramp, turn left on Camino Pablo (toward Orinda Village), right on Santa Maria Way (the signal after the BART station and freeway entrance), and left on Orinda Way.
From the east, take Hwy 24 to the Orinda exit. Follow the ramp to Orinda Village. Turn right on Santa Maria way (the first signal) and left on Orinda Way.
Once on Orinda Way, go 1 short block to the parking lot on the southeast side of the two-story building on your right. There is additional free parking beneath the building as well as on the street.

From BART (4 blocks): Exit the Orinda station, turn right and cross a pedestrian bridge, then cross a second pedestrian bridge on the left. Go 1 short block on the sidewalk to the third pedestrian bridge. Go 2 blocks on Orinda Way to the Orinda Library.

Upcoming Programs:
December: No meeting (happy holidays!)
January 24, 2018, 7:30 pm, Orinda Library Garden Room
Photo Sharing Night
Gardens, landscapes, flora, fauna, plant art, you name it! Come to share your images or just to enjoy the photos that others bring (nonmembers are most welcome to present and/or enjoy). Pro and amateur photographers are all invited and appreciated.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please contact Sue ( or 510-496-6016) by January 22 if you want to show photos. You’ll receive a reply with information about photo format (digital images, old-fashioned slides, and prints are all welcome) and how to upload photos prior to the meeting.