News From MO: 2000
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry Shaw, whose remarkable dream of building a garden of science and beauty lives on in the 21st century. Shaw retired from his successful business at the age of 39 and in the next years began to pour his considerable energies into converting the treeless, prairie property he acquired outside St. Louis into a garden for the people. On the advice of George Engelmann, a St. Louis physician and botanist, Shaw began to plan for a complete botanical garden–one that included research and education along with horticultural display. In 1857 he purchased the J. J. Bernhardi collection for his new herbarium. A year later, he made the first acquisitions for the library, and in 1859 the Missouri Botanical Garden opened to the public. In 1885 a school of botany was established at Washington University, and Shaw created an endowed professorship honoring George Engelmann. With these building blocks, Henry Shaw laid the foundation for the Missouri Botanical Garden's research division, whose programs now span the globe. Garden researchers keep Shaw's dream alive and strong as they continue to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.
Scientific publications from the Missouri Botanical Garden date back to the time of William Trelease, the Garden's first director after Henry Shaw. In his will, Shaw directed the Garden director to submit an annual report to the board, and Trelease established the Missouri Botanical Garden annual report, whose first number was published in 1890. In these reports Trelease included scientific articles along with his report to the board, and he started sending this serial publication on exchange to other botanical and academic institutions to build the Garden library's collection of serials. Today the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Novon still go out on exchange worldwide.
When George Moore succeeded Trelease as Director, he split the annual report into the Bulletin and the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, with the Bulletin to contain the report of the Director and the Annals the scientific reports. The Annals began publication as a scientific journal in 1914 and have been published continuously to the present. Nell Horner, who worked in the library, edited the Annals for 40 years, and subsequently several Garden scientists have served as editor: Robert Dressler, Walter Lewis, Marshall Crosby, Gerrit Davidse, Bill D'Arcy, Henk van der Werff, and Mike Grayum, among others. The Monographs from the Missouri Botanical Garden series began in 1978 with the publication of the Checklist of Flora North America (not the current Flora of North America project), and Novon was unveiled in 1991 as a place to publish new taxa and changes in nomenclature. In addition to these serials, MBG Press also publishes free-standing books. One early example was Julian Steyermark's Spring Flora of Missouri, published in 1940. Free-standing books from MBG Press include many floras and other titles, such as John Charles Frémont, Botanical Explorer, by Stanley L. Welsh (1998).
The name of the Garden's publishing operation, Missouri Botanical Garden Press, also dates to the Trelease era. As MBG Press enters a second century, its operations are increasingly electronic. The Press is about to bring out a wholly interactive catalog on the World Wide Web with online ordering capability (the catalog can currently be viewed online). Journal back issues (older than five years) and the early annual reports are stored on JSTOR, a bibliographic resource that permits full text searches. MBG Press editors and staff may now track and edit manuscripts, and receive and send out reviews and other correspondence electronically. Authors are more and more submitting manuscripts and original figures in electronic formats. These advances have significantly changed the way the Press communicates with authors, reviewers, and printers.
This year marks a decade for the serial Novon. The number of pages published per year have jumped from 1,000 in 1996 to 1,500 in 1999, an indicator of the important niche in the botanical systematics community filled by this journal. Neil Harriman (OSH) is assembling an index to hallmark Novon's first ten years. Other important publishing events for MBG Press this year include a themed Annals issue on the systematics of Takhtajania, which will come out this Fall, volumes of both the Moss Flora of China (with Science Press–Beijing) and the Moss Flora of Central America, as well as the concurrent three-volume opus, the Flora de Nicaragua. The latter will be the only completed flora of a Latin American country published in Spanish. The Bill D'Arcy Memorial Volume is progressing and has commitments for more than two dozen manuscripts. Complete information on all titles available from the Press may be obtained at www.mobot.org.
From 1859 to 1940, the herbarium collection increased from approximately 62,000 to 1.3 million specimens, and by the 1970s it had reached 2.3 million. Since 1972, when Peter H. Raven's tenure as Director began, the Garden's research programs have enjoyed phenomenal growth. On November 11, 1999, the herbarium mounted its 5 millionth specimen, Cathaya argyrophylla Chun & Kuang, representing a rare genus of Chinese pine. The library now contains 126,000 bound volumes, including monographs and journals, and an extensive non-book collection. The research staff has grown from eight in 1920 to 129 (47 Ph.D. scientists and 82 technical and support personnel), and there are more than 20 floristic and monographic projects underway, in addition to general collecting in countries around the world. This year 34 students are enrolled in the Garden's graduate program, 16 of them from other countries, including Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Korea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
In 1999 the Garden created two new fellowship programs for Latin American botanists, the Elizabeth E. Bascom Fellowship for Latin American women in the plant sciences and the Alwyn H. Gentry Fellowship for studies in South American botany. These two programs provide travel grants for periods of one to six months at the Garden. In August 2000 the second round of Bascom fellowships were awarded. This year's recipients of the award were: María Fátima Mereles H. ("El Género Eleocharis, Cyperaceae, para la Flora del Paraguay"); Jasmín Opisso Mejía ("Estudio de los musgos de la Provincia de San Ignacio, Cajamarca, Perú"); and Luz Stella Suárez ("El Género Calathea, Marantaceae, en la Amazonía Colombiana"). The Bascom Fellowship Committee was very pleased to receive many excellent proposals again this year. The Committee for the Gentry Fellowship hopes to announce a second call for applications at the end of this year.
New staff members in the Research Division since last October are Wendy Applequist, (Postdoctoral Researcher, Applied Research), Maria Becker (Herbarium Assistant), Christopher Birkinshaw (Assistant Curator, Applied Research), Ruth Ann Bizoff (Administrative Assistant, Applied Research), Adam Bradley (Senior Herbarium Assistant, Applied Research), Trish Consiglio (Geographic Systems Analyst), Aida Kadunic (Senior Secretary, MBG Press), Kathryn Kennedy (Director, Center for Plant Conservation), Fred Keusenkothen (Imaging Technician, web group), Zachary Rogers (Herbarium Assistant), Jan Salick (Curator, Applied Research), Gretchen Walters (Senior Herbarium Assistant, Applied Research), and Azemina Zeljkovic (Senior Secretary, Research). Chris Freeland returned to head up the web group, and Beth Owen, formerly a senior herbarium assistant, moved into the position of web content developer. Petra Malesevich, Senior Herbarium Assistant, returned to work with Tom Croat on his Araceae projects. Mary Merello, Senior Herbarium Assistant, was named project coordinator for the Costa Rica project. Bruce Allen, Michael Grayum, Barry Hammel, Porter P. Lowry II, James Miller, David Neill, and George Schatz were promoted to the rank of Curator. Michele Funston was named Assistant Curator, and Si He Associate Curator.
The Garden staff and botanical community were saddened by the death of Dr. Willliam D'Arcy on December 16, 1999. D'Arcy, who was a Senior Curator, had been on the staff of the Garden since receiving his Ph.D. from Washington University in 1972. Under his leadership the 12-volume Flora of Panama was completed, the first modern, monographic flora for any mayor region of the Neotropics. He is greatly missed by his friends and colleagues.
The research staff is committed to three major categories of botanical work: floristic, monographic, and curatorial; MO also participates in conservation activities and the development of information technology for botanical data management. An overview of research activities at MO and a directory of its staff, associated university faculty, and research associates follow. For more information on any aspect of research at the Missouri Botanical Garden, we invite you to visit us on the Web at http://www.mobot.org.