Herbaria with Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, Dr. Barbara M. Thiers


An honor to have you. How about we start off by telling everyone a little bit about who you are and what it is you do. Okay name is barbara tears. My title is patricia k. Holmgren director of the william. Linda steere herbarium of new york botanical garden herbarium. The garden is the second largest in the world. It has almost eight million specimens and it has been in active force implant research. Since in founding the institution the late eighteen eighteen hundreds. And what we do there is we add specimens to this survey. Remember here we also make them available as loans or as we allow people to come visit. And we also are digitizing the specimens at a fairly fast clip with thanks from funding over the last decade. Or so actually more from the national science foundation. So that's my job. I have a staff about thirty people and one of the things i do in. That job is a fair. Bit of public outreach. In the way of giving tours of the herbarium over the years to writing people local students to the general public houses. Our collection isn't like a museum in that it's open to the public. The this all behind the scenes so we let the public in occasionally but really just for a few days at a time and also then for people who might wanna help right about or support our herbarium. So it's through really through the the the tours that i'd given over the years that i began to really think about the herbarium and how to talk about it in a way that would interest people because on his face. It's a collection of dead plants and it doesn't sound very exciting however i've been really heartened that Especially in recent years. Maybe with a heightened understanding or appreciation of the environment of worry about climate change that. There's been a lot of people have been a lot more interested in this aspect of science. It's not the glamorous part it's where we store the research results you know that others have published upon and we have to store them forever. it's never ending. They absolutely have to be maintained. Forever and It's it's hard to do that. It's hard to keep the funding to keep the staff. It's hard to keep the collection up when you have so many but it's it's an absolutely crucial aspect of the scientific process. This is where the the the documentation of the plant. Biodiversity research is located in terms of my background. I sort of grew up in a herbarium. My father was actually a psychologist studied. Fungi and started their barium at san francisco state university and all my childhood weekends were spent either collecting mushrooms or it was the season than Often to get me out from under foot from my under my mother's feet my father had become to the herbarium on a sunday afternoon and help him do things. Like lou label. Simple jobs it. I got more complicated. And he gave me a little bit of money for it. So i was. I was happy to do it. And i did that for years. I enjoyed in good. I became a teenager and i was so interesting. And i i didn't I didn't want anything to do with our barium or my parents or anything but Somewhere my college years. I actually found my way back. I just seem to me that my father and his colleagues his students all just could hardly wait to get up and go to work and make new discoveries every day. They were so passionate about what they did. And i hadn't really come across any other community where people have that kind of passion and i wanted to be part of it so The focus of san francisco. State was on fungi. Although there were people working on lichens and other groups but one group nobody was working on. Were the liver words. The had paddock's thought they were too hard and apply they're not a terribly rich flora in california so they weren't always even very easy to find but they intrigued me so i began to kind of teach myself What could i made a lot of bad identification. But i graduate but i grew to really love these little organisms. They're they're tiny. They're beautiful all sorts of falls structures to their leaves and so forth. And you just feel like when you look at the the microscope you just kind of entering a miniature world Which is just full of beauty. And then i went on to grad school. I was able to convince someone to let me study with them. rather famous man rudolf schuster who wrote the mammoths treatment of the bryant of the hypocrisy north america. He was actually a horrible mentor. But that's okay. I still got my degree. And i was lucky enough to get a post doctoral position at the new york botanical garden. Right out of grad school. Once i was there i knew i never really wanted to leave. So that's that's kind of story mike.

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