Ph.D. Assistantship in Plant-Vertebrate Herbivore Interactions, Boise, ID

Position to understand molecular, physiological, behavioral and demographic interactions between toxic plants and vertebrate herbivores. Deadline: 1 Dec 2019


Herbarium Curator / Instructor - Oregon State University

The Department of Botany and Plant Pathology ( seeks applicants for a 12-month, full-time (1.0 FTE) Instructor and Herbarium Curator. Deadline: October 31, 2019


Submit Proposals for Botany 2020 Symposia Now

Dear ASPT members:

It's time to start thinking about symposia and colloquia for Botany 2020, July 18-22 in Anchorage, Alaska. The participating societies will be the American Bryological and Lichenological Society, American Fern Society, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, International Association for Plant Taxonomy, and Society for Herbarium Curators.

The theme of this year's conference is "Plants at the Extremes" and we would encourage you to think about this in your proposals. Proposals that incorporate the indigenous people and history of the area, or the impact of climate change on the region, are welcome. Submit your proposal today!

Symposia vs. Colloquia: What's the Difference?

  • Symposia are of broad, interdisciplinary, cross-society interest. They are limited to six speakers, and talks are 30 minutes each. The number of symposia is limited to six. Funding for approved symposia is generally $2000-$4000.

  • Colloquia are on more narrow topics, perhaps of interest to a particular section or society. Colloquia can include no more than two 30-minute talks. All other talks are 15 minutes. The total number of talks can vary from 8 (with 2 30-minute talks) to 12 (all 15-minute talks). There is no limit on the number of colloquia. Please note that colloquia are intended to draw participants from conference attendees and not to rely on external invited speakers. Consistent with this, funding for colloquia is generally limited, not exceeding more than $200-$300 total.

Proposals for these sessions should include:

  1. The name, institution, and email addresses of organizers.

  2. The title of the symposium/colloquium.

  3. An abstract/synopsis (400 words). This should describe the topic/content only. Please note that this will be used as the abstract in the program.

  4. A brief explanation (150 words) of why this topic is appropriate for a Botany conference symposium

  5. A list of speakers, including institutional affiliations, topics, and an indication of which have committed to participate:
    a. For symposia, six speakers and two alternates
    b. For colloquia, up to 12 speakers
    Please note that when preparing proposals, organizers are expected to take into account gender, seniority, nationality, and other attributes traditionally underrepresented in conference symposia. We encourage proposals whose topics concern newly emerging fields, are synthetic, or that differ from those that have been included in recent Botany meetings.

  6. A budget estimate with justification. Symposium funds are intended to be used to defray costs for participants who otherwise would not be able to attend the conference. See note above about colloquium funding.

  7. Proposals should be submitted to:

Symposium selection process:

  1. Proposals are due October 23, 2019. Please note this is a HARD deadline. There will be no extensions!!

  2. Proposals will be sent to the presidents of societies.

  3. Participating societies will each endorse a maximum of six symposia (one vote per society). At this stage, this does not include a commitment of funds.

  4. Societies will inform the BSA program director which six proposals they endorse.

  5. The BSA program director will add up votes and send the tallies to the program directors of all participating societies for final discussion and approval.

We look forward to reviewing your submission! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Thanks so much,

Harvey Ballard, ASPT Program Director ( ballardh AT ohio DOT edu )


Lucinda McDade, 2019 Asa Gray Award Recipient

The American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) is excited to announce that Dr. Lucinda McDade has been chosen as its 2019 Asa Gray Award recipient. The Asa Gray Award—named after the most influential North American Botanist of the 19th Century—recognizes lifetime achievement in plant systematics and is ASPT’s most prestigious award.

The Asa Gray Award recognizes those who have cultivated a career that has contributed significant research to systematic botany, while making lasting contributions to the systematic community, profession, and students. Lucinda McDade epitomizes the ideals that the Asa Gray Award embodies through her numerous contributions to science, student training and mentoring, herbarium sciences, and service to the scientific community. Many know Lucinda through her leadership roles, which have included serving as the president of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists and The Association for Tropical Biology. Indeed, Lucinda's leadership has distinguished her among her peers. When asked about Lucinda, University of California, Berkeley Professor Bruce Baldwin said,

“Lucinda’s amazing career has been distinguished by bold and effective leadership in systematic botany in each of the arenas that matter most to make a significantly positive impact on our field.”

Lucinda’s research program has largely centered around the plant family Acanthaceae, a diverse group of 4,000 species, which includes thunbergias, shrimp plants, bear’s breeches, and wild petunias. Most of what scientists know about the Acanthaceae tree-of-life has been due to the efforts of Dr. McDade, her close colleagues, and her students. In an effort to understand all aspects of Acanthaceae diversity, her work has encompassed topics as varied as evolution, reproductive biology, ecology, anatomy, and even symbiosis with fungi. Her contributions have extended beyond the plant systematic field. Her experimental phylogenetic studies, for example, remain highly read and cited among biologists. Dr. McDade has also garnered a reputation for conducting careful and thoughtful work. Peter Raven, for example, described her work as

“precise and illuminating, always representing a solid step forward in the understanding of the groups concerned.”

In addition to her significant contributions to our scientific understanding of plant diversity, Dr. McDade has been a strong advocate for the importance of herbaria in plant sciences. Herbaria are collections of pressed plants that provide scientists with a direct account of species diversity in the past, present, and future. As the curator of the herbarium at the University of Arizona, Lucinda was one of the earliest advocates to digitize and freely disseminate herbarium data. At the Philadelphia Herbarium, which houses the irreplaceable Lewis and Clark collection, among others, Dr. McDade worked tirelessly to receive funds to move such historically important collections into more modern storage cabinets in order to preserve them for future generations. Her advocacy continues in her current position at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, where, as Peter Raven notes

“since moving to Claremont, Lucinda has become involved in conservation projects and general considerations for California and Baja California, areas that are of special interest in this era of rapid global climate change.”

Through her nomination letters, it was clear that Dr. McDade has had a long-lasting and positive influence on her students’ and postdocs’ lives. Through her mentorship, which has been described as engaged, thoughtful, and open, Dr. McDade has been a role model whose interaction with her students have enhanced their lives both professionally and personally. Six Masters’ students, 13 Ph.D. students, and nine postdocs have directly benefitted from McDade’s mentorship, but what strongly came across through her nomination support letters was the numerous people that benefitted from the informal mentorship that she generously gives. On the topic of her mentorship, one letter writer wrote

“Lucinda has this rare ability to see unlimited potential in people and she encourages them to venture beyond their comfort levels ... when it comes to learning a new analytical method, the word ‘impossible’ is not in her vocabulary.”

The plant systematics community is much stronger now because of the students that she has cultivated, many of which who are now training students of their own and extending Lucinda’s impact further. Lucinda’s former Ph.D. student Manuel Luján wrote,

“Now that I am not working close to her, she inspires me as a role model. She is the most dedicated person I know to promote plant research and education, not only as a mentor but as a garden director, fundraiser, and plant conservation advocate.”

Dr. McDade’s nomination has certainly raised the bar for future Asa Gray Award recipients.

Dr. McDade earner her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her Doctoral work was completed at Duke University, where her dissertation focused on the four aspects of research that would follow her entire career: tropical biology of the Americas, systematics, reproductive biology, and Acanthaceae. After completing her doctorate, Dr. McDade held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Dr. McDade has held three prestigious academic positions, which began as an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona and the curator of the ARIZ Herbarium. After Arizona, she was the Associate Curator and Chair of Botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Her current position is the Executive Director and the Judith B. Friend Director of Research at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, as well as a Professor of Botany at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, U.S.A.


Lena Struwe, 2019 Peter Raven Award Recipient

The American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) is pleased to announce that Dr. Lena Struwe, Professor and Directory of the Chrysler Herbarium at Rutgers University in New Jersey, U.S.A., has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Peter Raven award. The award is named for Dr. Peter Raven, eminent botanist and President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and is presented annually to a plant systematist who has made exceptional outreach efforts to non-scientists. It is considered the society’s most prestigious recognition of achievement in international science communication.

Since 2000, the Peter Raven award has been given annually to individuals who go above and beyond in communicating the importance of science and scientific discoveries to the public. As one supporter put it,

“Lena is a one-person army for advocating the importance of botanical research and outreach to the communities beyond academia.”

Her outreach activities range in size and scope from cataloging plants found in parking lots to documenting the flora of Rutgers University to maintaining her blog about plants in everyday life ( Her ability to improve the public’s botanical literacy and appreciation is highlighted particularly in her work on building the public’s appreciation of common “weeds”, or plants encountered in daily life. In doing so, people in urban settings can begin to appreciate the surrounding diversity in their concrete jungles as well as better understand the amazing adaptations required for such a life. Parking lot weeds were featured in a “Plants Are Cool, Too” episode, a YouTube series hosted by fellow botanist Dr. Chris Martine. Moments such as this show that Dr. Struwe’s work is applicable to both specialists and non-specialists alike, a characteristic worthy of this year’s Peter Raven award nomination.

Eight scientists nominated Dr. Struwe for the award, a not-so-easy task given the extensive amount of outreach and research she has accomplished throughout her career. Her positive view of social media as a tool, rather than a distraction, to educate the public is highlighted by her use of Facebook groups, blogs and Flickr, the latter of which houses a number of photographs that have been featured in articles published by both local and international venues such as the BBC, Huffington Post and Smithsonian Magazine. Dr. Struwe’s view of social media is further highlighted by the sheer amount of popular press her research and outreach efforts have garnered. Clearly, Dr. Struwe’s goals of increasing botanical literacy and awareness has been successful and wholly worthwhile. As such, her nomination and selection as the 2019 Peter Raven award recipient is without a doubt well-deserved.

Dr. Struwe received her BSc in Biology and Earth Science from Stockholm University in Sweden. Afterwards, she obtained her PhD in Systematic Botany at Stockholm University, which was followed by a postdoctoral position at the New York Botanical Gardens. Since 2001, Dr. Struwe has been at Rutgers University where she has cultivated and honed her skills as a scientist, educator and science communicator extraordinaire. She recently attended the Botany 2019 conference in Tucson, Arizona where she presented research on using iNaturalist as a tool for community education and biodiversity science as well as a talk on morphological and functional aspects of specialized trichomes (colleters) in Pentas (Rubiaceae).


New Graduate Student Research Grant Honors Dr. Vicki Funk

The American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) is pleased to announce that Dr. Vicki A. Funk, Senior Research Botanist and Head of the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., will have a new Graduate Student Research Grant named for her beginning in 2020.

Dr. Funk is a prominent scholar whose life’s work has centered on the Asteraceae, the sunflower family. She and her colleagues have dramatically increased our knowledge of the family over the course of her career, due in large part to the leading role she has taken. She is a highly effective researcher and mentor that includes colleagues of all career stages and from many countries in her work: her professional life is one of bridging boundaries to build international relationships. She has also played a pivotal role in the early development of the fields of cladistics and biogeography by developing explicit methods that better understood evolutionary relationships and historical biogeography. One of her most recent projects, an extension of the Global Genome Initiative, GGI-Gardens, is focused on collecting genome-quality tissue samples from a network of botanic gardens and arboreta worldwide to leverage the diversity found in these living collections.

Dr. Funk is the quintessential altruist when it comes to serving professional societies and building research networks that make the field of systematic biology more effective and fun. Countless people have been mentored and had their careers supported by Dr. Funk, who has fostered the training of students from developing countries, primarily in Latin America, and with a focus on under-represented minorities. The world is tangibly a better place because of her efforts.

To honor Dr. Funk’s innumerable contributions to our discipline and the society, we announce a new ASPT graduate student research grant, the Vicki A. Funk Grant, which will join the other named, endowed grants that are awarded annually to the highest ranked proposals received from graduate student members of ASPT. The Vicki A. Funk Grant will join other named grants including the Rogers McVaugh, William R. Anderson, Shirley and Alan Graham, and W. Hardy Eshbaugh grants in providing up to $1,500 and is intended to help student researchers defray the costs of doing research in any area within plant systematics.

A native of Kentucky, USA, Dr. Funk received her B.S. in Biology and History (1969) and a M.Sc. in Biology (1975) at Murray State University in 1969. Funk completed a Ph.D. in 1980 at Ohio State University where she focused on the systematics of Montanoa (Asteraceae) followed by a postdoctoral position at the New York Botanical Garden from 1980 to 1981, after which she assumed her role as a research scientist and curator at the U.S. National Herbarium, where she is still employed today. Dr. Funk was also recognized for her lifetime of achievements in plant systematics as the recipient of the 2018 Asa Gray Award from ASPT. Join us in honoring her and carrying her excellent work forward —both science and service— long into the future through the support for the training of the next generation of plant systematists.