Research

Staff

Peter Fritsch, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research / Director of the Herbarium

Brooke Byerley Best, Ph.D.

Director of Research Programs

Tiana Franklin Rehman

Herbarium Collections Manager

Barney L. Lipscomb

Director of BRIT Press and Library, Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany

Brandy Watts

BRIT Librarian

Jason Best

Director of Biodiversity Informatics

Alejandra Vasco, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Morgan Gostel, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Manuela Dal Forno

Research Botanist

Kimberly Shay

Press Coordinator and Assistant Editor

Kim Norton Taylor

Conservation Research Botanist

The BRIT research staff strives to incorporate the "three Ds" into each of our projects: discovery, documentation, and dissemination. Our researchers generally focus their projects around the themes of biodiversity exploration, botany science core, and sustainability. By participating in a variety of projects around the world, from Peru and Jamaica to our home in Fort Worth, Texas, our researchers are always on the go...and always learning.

Upcoming Events
Research Projects
Recent Articles

Summer in Paradise: Preserving Plant Genomes across Texas

This article was written by GGI-Gardens Summer 2019 Fellow, Seth Hamby. Texas is a state that you can drive through for 7 hours and still be in Texas, believe me we did it this summer! Because of its geographic location, geology, and rainfall gradient, Texas supports tons of different ecoregions, ecotones, and microhabitats that foster some of the highest biodiversity in the country, second only to California (obligatory “boo! hiss!”). Coming into the GGI-Gardens Fellowship I didn’t really know what to expect. I figured that we would devote most of our time to lab work and only get a few chances to go collecting out in the field. Little did I know that we would travel thousands of miles, spend countless hours in the field, collect amazing botanical wonders, and meet some of the coolest pla...
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Botanists Amidst the Texas Flora: A GGI Summer Fellowship

This article was written by GGI-Gardens Summer 2019 Fellow, Farahnoz Khojayori. Climbing up the Tobe Spring Trail over 7,000 feet elevation past rattlesnakes, tall evergreens, and countless thistles and shrubs I was not prepared for the view before me. With Mt. Livermore, to my left, as a tall indelible shadow providing shade against the hot July sun, I finally reached the spring. At a glance Tobe Spring seemed dry, and the small muddy ground was the only indication of this once integral water source. On closer look, however, numerous species of butterflies and moths could be seen gathered around the last remaining droplets of water. And next to them was a display of the most exuberant flowers of Aquilegia and many other plants I did not yet know. It was the most surreal ending to a summer...
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Peter Fritsch Reporting on Field Research in the Philippines

The first expedition to the Philippines has been going splendidly, with many hundreds of collections, photographs, DNA samples, and associated field data being collected by the team. The four areas to be surveyed are Mount Marilog, Mount Limbawon, and Mount Hamiguitan, all on the island of Mindanao, and several peaks on Camiguin Island just off the north coast of Mindanao. From left to right, Gordon McPherson (Missouri Botanical Garden), Peter Fritsch (BRIT), and Victor Amoroso (Central Mindanao University) at the Mount Marilog Guest House, where we conducted the first leg of the overall expedition. The vicinity of Mount Marilog has been unexplored botanically until now, and so we are expecting a number of plant and lichen species new to science as a result of our work. Peter Fritsch in th...
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A Natural Nature Networker

The annual Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention was held at the Fort Worth Convention Center at the end of March. The associated trade show was open to the public, and there were more than 200 exhibitors/vendors offering giveaways and information at various booths. Our own Dan Caudle, Resident Research Associate, worked several booths on behalf of the Youth Range Workshop , Texas Grazing Land Coalition (TXGLC) , and the Grazing Animal Nutrition (GAN) Lab at the Blackland Research and Extension Center , this last of whom (according to Dan) "test livestock fecal samples with Near Infrared Spectroscopy to determine nutritional value of the forages that have actually been consumed, digested, and passed through the animals." You know...as one does (!!!!). Though officially "retired"...
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Two Dozen Reasons

Resident Research Associate and retired USDA-NRCS rangeland specialist Dan Caudle shares his thoughts on the value of his continued involvement with the annual Texas Youth Range Workshop, the flagship educational opportunity of TSSRM (Texas Section of Society of Range Management).
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Two Botanists and An Artist Walk Into the Desert...

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (ACMAA) sponsored Barney Lipscomb and Tiana Rehman to serve as botanical guides to West Texas for artist Mark Dion. Commissioned by the ACMAA, Mark—a contemporary artist who is part explorer, part historian, part naturalist, and part collector—is making a series of exploratory journeys through Texas that are inspired by four early naturalists/artists in Texas: Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge (1824–1913), John James Audubon (1785–1851), Frank Law Olmsted (1822–1903), and Charles Wright (1811–1885). In 2020, the ACMAA Special Exhibition Galleries will tell the story of these early Texas Artists and natural history travelers in Texas. Map of Wright's journey through West Texas (from Flowering Plants of Trans-Pecos Texas and Adjacent Areas ) BRIT’s West Texas t...
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The Importance of Studying Natural History Collections Past, Present, and Future

Article written by Lani DuFresne, 2018 BRIT Herbarium and Research Intern and student at Rice University. Out of everything I’ve learned so far in my education, cursive was one of the few skills I expected I’d never use. And yet, as I spent part of my summer trying to decipher the hastily scrawled, elaborate handwritten script a botanist from the 1880’s used in his collection notes, I found myself unexpectedly grateful for it. Lani and Dr. Alejandra Vasco In all fairness, nothing else I did that summer was a task I would have expected to come across during my internship at BRIT with Dr. Alejandra Vasco , an expert on ferns. I participated in a project that aims to understand the history, distribution, diversity, and conservation challenges of native ferns in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex...
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Summer 2017 Research and Herbarium Interns

by Alyssa B. Young
Education: Junior in Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa Most Recent Project: Vanessa is currently collaborating with Dr. Harold W. Keller at BRIT on a paper about corticolous myxomycetes, a type of slime mold found on Texas American elm trees. Vanessa started this project during her 2017 summer internship and has continued the project in the year since. Favorite Memory of Summer 2017 BRIT internship: “Helping with the NLU collection acquisition in the herbarium, which led to lots of fun and laughter. The most memorable part of the whole experience for me was each intern getting a dinosaur-based nickname. Mine is Vanessasaurus Rex.” Education: Senior in Ecology at the University of Texas at Dallas Most Recent Project: Over the summer of 2018, Natch helped with BRIT summ...
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