History of the Wichita State University’s Herbarium

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Culhane, G. James
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Wichita State University's Herbarium
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The WSU Herbarium contains over 4,500 electronically data based specimens (as of spring 2009), including both plants and lichens, and contributes to biological infrastructure of the state by making specimen-level information accessible. Specimens in the collection provide data to address drivers of ecological and biodiversity change as well as changes in climate, land use, and invasive species. The beginnings of the modern Wichita State herbarium start with the arrival of Dr. Art Youngman to the University in 1965. When he began teaching, the existing herbarium specimens were housed in open cabinets in one of the teaching classrooms. Using class budgets, he acquired herbarium cabinets for the storage of specimens. With the construction of Hubbard Hall in the late 1970’s, Dr. Youngman’s lab and classroom facilities had ample room for a herbarium. This is where the first of the organization of the herbarium began with specimen records on 5 x 8 index cards and a rough list of the specimens in the collection. Some attempts were made during the 1980’s to move this information to a computerized format, but were never completed. After this time the herbarium was mostly neglected until the summer of 2007. Undergraduate students James Culhane and Michele Spenser undertook an independent study with Dr. Youngman, which included organizing the herbarium and moving all specimens to their new location. It quickly became apparent that there was much to be done. James Culhane, and undergraduate students he oversaw, spent the next 6 semesters entering the specimens into an Excel spreadsheet, mounting and identifying stored specimens, and updating nomenclature. This work was the foundation for the digitalization project being led by Drs. Mary Liz Jameson and Leland Russell.

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Presented at the Great Plains Plant Systematics Symposium. Kansas State University. Konza Prairie Biological Station, Oct. 8, 2010.
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