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Connie Kaye & Neil Billington
authors of Medicinal Plants of the Heartland

Connie Kaye, Ph.D. obtained a Bachelor of Science in Zoology in 1968 from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, SIU-C. her intersest in medicine was jump-started when she supported herself working as a nurses aide in the early 1960s. After receiving her degree, Connie worked as a bacteriologist in Peoria, Illinois, before returning to Carbondale to begin a family. She returned to SIU-C, earning a Master of Science degree in 1983, and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1989, both in botany. She specialized in botanical cytology, concentrating her reserach on the effect of plant growth regulators on ribosomal cistron regulation in the nucleoli of epidermal onion cells.

Connie's paternal great-grandmothers were both part Cherokee Indian. Being a botanist has given her the opportunity to research the native plants of the heartland and their medicinal uses by her ancestors. Connie has also worked for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service located at Harrisburg, Illinois, collecting, pressing, drying and mounting herbarium specimens, Connie is currently teaching adult education courses on the medicinal plants of Southern Illinois at local junior colleges.

Neil Billington, Ph.D. obtained a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Animal and Plant Ecology in 1978 from Loughborough Univesity in England. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in 1985, also from Loughborough University, on the ecology of phytoplankton. Neil's interest in medicinal plants began when he worked in a wholefood cooperative in Loughborough, England. he also grew herbs for both culinary and medicinal use in his garden in Shepshed, England.

Neil moved to North America in 1983, working in Canada for eight years at the University of Windsor and the Univesity of Guelph. He spent his summers in the Canadian Arctic studying the ecology of tundra ponds. While there, he maintained an interest in the food and medicinal plants used by the Canadian Indians and Inuit. He is currenly an Assistant Professor of Zoology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, specializing in fish genetics in the Cooperative Fisheries Research Laboratory.