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.


Linda Brown Recognized with the 2019 Distinguished Service Award

Linda Brown, the esteemed Business Office Manager of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) from 1996 to 2019, is the recipient of the 2019 ASPT Distinguished Service Award. Linda is recognized for her significant contributions that have been instrumental in the success and growth of ASPT during her tenure. Linda first took on managerial duties for ASPT as an assistant to the Treasurer in 1996; little did she know what that first job would blossom into! As a Society, we have come to depend heavily on Linda’s institutional memory and knowledge, boundless commitment, unwavering dedication, and amazing fortitude over the past 23 years. She has truly been the engine that has kept ASPT moving forward.

ASPT officers past and present have highlighted her personal commitment to the Society, her wealth of knowledge that has been essential to the organization’s leadership, and her effective execution of an exceptionally diverse set of tasks necessary to run a professional organization. The fourteen letters of nomination each provided details of her talents and tremendous impact as well as her regular inclination to go beyond the call of duty. As one letter pointed out, her title of “Business Office Manager” was too modest given her unparalleled leadership, organization, efficiency, and wisdom. There is no doubt that she has been the bedrock of the organization; her efforts to keep the society on budget, to develop and implement necessary policies, and to keep council members on task is evident in the successes of ASPT over the years. Much of her work behind the scenes has been completed with a patience that is awe- inspiring and, as one past president notes, “borders on saintly.” We have all benefited from her flexibility and grace in seeing tasks to completion.

Linda’s commitment to ASPT has undoubtedly contributed to its success, but has also played an especially important role in serving student members. She has been the face of the Society to many hundreds of early career researchers who have verified their student status with her during the process of becoming ASPT members, received research awards and travel grants from her on behalf of the Society, and visited the ASPT booth at the annual Botany conference. Our Society will be forever in her debt for her numerous contributions. While she will be sorely missed (and the Society may fall apart without her steadfast leadership) we wish her the best in retirement.


Recipients of the 2019 ASPT Undergraduate Research Prize

The American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) has selected Blake Fauskee, Matthew Fertakos, and Lauren Frankel, as 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize (URP) recipients. The prizes are considered the Society’s most prestigious recognition of undergraduate achievement. The URP has been presented annually at the international Botany conference since 2015 for outstanding, independent research projects in plant systematics completed within the last two years.


Blake Fauskee, just completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth, in Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.A, and is a recipient of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists for his work on apomixis in the fern species Myriopteris lindheimeri, a species native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. As a member in the lab of Dr. Amanda Grusz at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, Fauskee evaluated genotypic diversity across the range of the species using 10 microsatellite markers from 96 samples. His findings show that genotypic diversity is higher in Mexico than in populations to the north, near the US-Mexico border. These findings will inform future studies regarding the role of apomixis in M. lindheimeri at the population level.  Fauskee has also participated in a National Science Foundation funded REU program hosted by The Field Museum in Chicago, where he looked into mitochondrial genome assembly and RNA editing in ferns. In her letter of nomination, Dr. Grusz notes that “[Fauskee] is a cornerstone of my lab group and will be deeply missed as he goes on to explore new avenues in graduate research.”


Matthew Fertakos just completed a bachelor’s degree at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey, U.S.A., and is a recipient of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists for his work on the assessment of species distribution modeling and species delimitation in North American Castanea. Working alongside Dr. Wendy Clement at the College of New Jersey and Dr. Elizabeth Spriggs at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Fertakos utilized 4,527 herbarium specimens and climate data to assess species limits between C. pumila and C. ozarkensis based on climate space analysis, and evaluated the accuracy of chestnut species distribution models when compared to fossil pollen data. Nominator Spriggs describes Fertakos as “a dedicated, creative, generous researcher who is passionate about plants and science and is generally curious about the natural world. He is a wonderful scientist with a bright future ahead of him.”


Lauren Frankel just completed a bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.A., and is a recipient of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize. Frankel was nominated for research she completed after being awarded a competitive summer fellowship to study with Dr. Laura Lagomarsino at Louisiana State University to study computational phylogenomics last year. Over the course of the summer of 2018, Frankel analyzed two sequence capture datasets to infer phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships within Neotropical bellflowers. Nominator Lagomarsino says that “as a senior undergraduate, [Frankel] already performs bioinformatic research at a level well above what I expect of graduate students, and even many postdoctoral fellows.” Frankel was also a participant in a National Science Foundation funded REU program at the Ohio State University where she generated and analyzed RADseq data for a population genomic study of Palmer’s amaranth. She has also studied tropical biology during a semester in Peru.


Isaac Lichter Marck Receives the 2019 ASPT George R. Cooley Award

The American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) has selected Isaac Lichter Marck as its 2019 Cooley Award recipient. Considered one of the most prestigious early-career recognitions in the plant sciences, the award is named for George R. Cooley, a successful banker who studied plants and worked in conservation in retirement.

Since 1956, the Cooley Award has been given for the best paper in systematics presented at the annual international Botany conference by a botanist in the early stages of their career. Awards are made to members of ASPT who are either graduate students or within one year of their post-doctoral careers for work judged to be substantially complete, synthetic, and original that is presented in a manner that is clear and engaging.

Lichter Marck’s talk, “Historical biogeography of the rock daisies (tribe Perityleae; Asteraceae) in the sky island archipelagos of the southwest U.S. and northern Mexico” was presented at Botany 2019 in Tucson, AZ, U.S.A. and focused on elements of his dissertation work, which he is conducting in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley and the Jepson Herbarium under the advisement of Dr. Bruce Baldwin.

His work focuses on historical biogeography and ecology of the southwestern desert flora, with special attention to sky islands and other insular environments, including edaphic islands. His field, herbarium, and laboratory studies of the rock daisies have shown them to be an ideal system for examining the origins of desert sky-island plant diversity. In his award-winning presentation, he showed evidence that desert sky-island rock daisies in the genus Perityle have descended from subtropical ancestors that appear to have been pre-adapted to dry, exposed environments in otherwise densely vegetated areas in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. Diversification in these ancestral subtropical environments predates the development of desert conditions in the American Southwest, which was occupied after the development of basin and range topography, followed by invasion of lower elevation settings after widespread aridification. 

One talk attendee noted that Lichter Marck “presented an extraordinary paper that rose above a strong pool of competitors, like a sky island in a desert sea.” The judges were impressed by Isaac’s ability to synthesize a deep and intimate understanding of his study group with impressive data collection and extensive fieldwork to illuminate a big question in plant systematics and evolutionary biology more broadly: How is it that the deserts of northern Mexico and the southwest United States harbor such a diverse flora of seemingly highly specialized and well-adapted plants, despite the fact that these regions are geologically very young?

As a fourth year PhD student, Lichter Marck’s current plans are to continue his studies of desert plant evolution and biogeography. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2011 at Wesleyan University.

Talk abstract: