Brooke Byerley Best, Ph.D.
Director of Research Programs
I currently serve as the Director of Research Programs where I manage the comings and goings of daily life within the Research Department. I originally started as a volunteer in the herbarium just after finishing my PhD and moving back to Texas in 2007. A temporary position with BRIT Press became available soon after my arrival, and I've been working with either the Press, Herbarium, or Research Department ever since! Working at BRIT has provided me the opportunity to exercise all my botanical muscles as I've been able to work with students, teachers, volunteers, interns, the public, research colleagues, and the literary community. It's truly a great place to be!
In addition to my role as DRP, I also serve as one of several botanists at BRIT who provide botanical services and expertise to the public and other departments at BRIT. We do adult education programs, training for community groups (Master Naturalists), field trips, tours, plant IDs, consultations, and vegetation surveys. I also often partner with BRIT's education department and act as research liaison for their programs where I mostly work at the interface of research and education programs (citizen science, adult/public programs, student programs, field experiences, real data collection, interaction with a scientist, career days, etc.) and specialize in experimental design.
When time allows, I also do research! I lead two research programs: one on the ecology of green roofs (within the Urban Ecology Program) and one on natural resource management, ecology, native vegetation, and stewardship of prairie and rangeland habitat. In terms of mentoring potential students, I have specialized research experience in floral morphology & evolution, pollination biology, plant hybridization/reproduction/breeding systems, invasives/competitive theory (e.g., ant-plant interactions), and pollinator systems and behavior. I also welcome opportunities to engage in projects that center around natural history collections. In all my interactions with students, I strive to kindle or keep warm the fires of natural curiosity while promoting critical thinking, training in best practices and techniques, and increasing overall science literacy.
Prior to my 2019 appointment as Director of Research Programs, I spent the prior 6 years as an editor with the Press, editing and producing the Botanical Miscellany book series and Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, a plant science and taxonomy journal. Our small Press editorial team excels in science content editing, especially within the plant taxonomy field. We help produce a lot of regional floras (floras of Virginia, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, North Central Texas) as well as field guides and monographs, including bilingual works. Many BRIT Press books end up being used as textbooks for college courses.
Brooke earned a PhD in Botany from Colorado State University, where she studied floral morphology and evolution in the genus Phlox (Polemoniaceae) and the impacts of native and invasive ant-plant interactions. She joined BRIT in 2007, originally working as a volunteer in the herbarium. In her free time, she enjoys collecting plants from the Rolling Plains region near Scurry County, Texas, birding, and indoor soccer. Follow her on Twitter @BotanyBrooke (all tweets her own and should not be assumed as representative of the views of BRIT).