Hello and welcome! I am a botanist with 25+ years experience in a wide array of botanical jobs and research — in KY, IL, MO, NY, and elsewhere, such as in CA as a restoration botanist and in FL as an assistant grower in a plant nursery, a botanical research greenhouse manager, and a botanical consultant. It has been a great life, pursuing new plants and new experiences, often in academia. My research interests include floristics and phylogenetic systematics and taxonomy, especially with the Polygalaceae. There is nothing I love more than learning new plants and sharing my passion for plant identification with others, e.g., check out the Arkansas Native Plant Society 2022 Basics of Botany Series with Dr. Richard Abbott (Saturdays, 6 pm). Part 1: Plant Identification Terminology, 2 Apr; Part 2: Plant Reproductive Terminology, 21 May; Part 3: The Basics Behind a Name, 18 Jun, or see below for other online presentations, most of which focus on how to organize information to facilitate plant identification.
Since Fall 2018, I have been settling in to life as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM), where so far all is well. Here in the southeastern corner of the state, the landscape is mostly farmland, pine plantation, and secondary remnants of swampy woods, i.e., I’ve gotta drive a bit to find a decent nature hike that doesn’t involve wet feet… Despite teaching botany, regional flora, plants in our world, and ecology, my life has felt decidedly non-botanical these last four years (based on what I was used to), as I adjust to a weekly routine more focused on teaching than on plants. By which criteria does one measure teaching success? Material presented? Passion with which the content is delivered? If student learning is a metric, yet more than half the class leaves a basic question blank (like listing 3 plants used by humans) on the final exam, does that mean I’m failing as an educator? Should I just focus on the handful who do well and seem to care? How does one motivate students to care about learning, especially at an open enrollment school?
It hasn’t been an entirely plantless life, though, as I do integrate hands-on time with plants into my teaching. Although there is no graduate biology/botany program at UAM, I have spent field time with graduate students in the Marsico lab at A-State, exploring many regions of AR thus far, photo-documented in iNaturalist… Covid concerns shut down most of my 2020 summer plans, but it worked out to teach a plant ID workshop (for professional biologists, land managers, & amateur enthusiasts) in southern Alabama, at/through Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and in 2021 I was able to return to my summer field botany course in western KY.
Back in 2017 & 2018, I made my last trips (so far) out of the US, when I spent 2 weeks in Tunja, Colombia as an invited keynote speaker and lecturer (charla magistral), 9th Colombian Botanical Congress; I spent 7 weeks in Myanmar (first time botanizing in Asia!!) as an invited lecturer and researcher for plant identification courses and fieldwork; and I co-taught a 2 week Plant Systematics course in conjunction with the 12th Latin American Botanical Congress in Ecuador… Now I largely content myself outside the classroom by giving plant talks to any & all interested groups and getting out on nature hikes as I can…
Please keep an eye on this space as more research project and portfolio materials will be added. In the meantime, check out the resources below, or view my CV.
- Photographic Atlas of Botany and Guide to Plant Identification
- Artificial Plant Id Motifs: Simple and Useful Patterns of Field Identification of Plants. An hour-long presentation with the Missouri Native Plant Society. The same link has 2 other talks of mine (all with handouts) on plant ID. And a similar talk was given to the Central Arkansas Master Naturalists.
- Introduction to the Vines of Arkansas, Arkansas Native Plant Society.
- Author page with the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Press [temporarily unavailable] including links to treatments published for the New Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada
- Photo Gallery of Vascular Plants with Walter Judd and collaborators
- Selected articles through Google Scholar illustrating my diverse research interests