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.
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 three 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 3 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.
2017 & 2018 were very busy for me (& botanically fun!): my funding at the NY botanical garden ended so I left the Big Apple; I taught a summer field botany course at Hancock Biological Station through Murray State University in western KY; 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…
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, also with three downloadable plant ID handouts.
- 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