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.