Interns & Volunteers

Our interns and volunteers are invaluable at BRIT. In this series, they discuss their experiences with us.

Return to Phytophilia

Recent Articles

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...
Read More >

A Summer Deep in the Weeds: Surprises Found Along the Way

Article written by Kelly Carroll, 2018 BRIT Herbarium and Research Intern and student at Trinity University. The property doesn’t look like much, driving by – a sea of seemingly uniform brown grass studded with mesquite trees, bordered by development and what looks to be a small-scale hackberry forest with a dry creek-bed running through it. Of course, everything looks different when you get close enough to see detail. Still, I didn’t have very high expectations when I arrived with Dan Caudle , a BRIT Resident Research Associate and grass and prairie expert, in May of 2018 to do a survey of the vegetation cover and biodiversity on the property ahead of construction that would ravage a good-sized section. When the summer started, I had no real experience in identifying anything beyond being...
Read More >

A Day as a Botanical Illustrator

Article written by Isabella Wu, 2018 BRIT Herbarium and Research Intern and student at Emory University. Clear skies heralded a warm afternoon with no cover from the blazing sun. I was on my way to the LBJ Grasslands an hour away from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (more commonly referred to as “BRIT”) where this whole herbarium adventure began. Kim Taylor, who is a rare plants expert at BRIT, had planned an outing to assess a new species first published two years ago in 2016. Memory’s Rose, latin name Rosa memoryae, sounded so good and beautiful. But there was a real possibility that it might not actually be a new species but rather a variation of the abundant Rosa foliolosa. We intended to find out. More specifically, we were going to collect the plant and record the number an...
Read More >

My Summer Education: The Microscopic World

This post was written by Vanessa Marshall, 2017 summer intern and student at The University of Alabama. BRIT has been amazing – a catalyst that has unlocked the doors to the natural world and shown me wonders that I had never fully appreciated. I have always loved hiking, climbing trees, being outside in general, but my connection to the surrounding plant-life was distant, similar to the relationship between a homeowner and the trees that form the hardwood floors. I appreciated plants’ beauty and enjoyed the shade, but now there is a definite connection between my (limited) scientific knowledge and the physical plants. It means so much more to know the scientific name of a tree you just ran past, or to recognize Vitis mustangensis and know that you can eat the wild grapes growing on the vi...
Read More >

Books, Botany, and Bugs

This article was written by Sydney Jackson, 2017 BRIT Summer Intern and student at Austin College in Sherman, TX. This past summer, summer of 2017, I was a research intern at BRIT. When first coming to BRIT I did not know what to expect. All the perceptions of internships that I had in my head were of interns running back and forth delivering coffee and dry cleaning to any staff member that asked. Luckily BRIT blew all of those premonitions out of the water and showed me what a great internship should really strive to be. During my internship I worked on three main projects with plenty of other small projects sprinkled in between (oh, the joys of a non-profit). The first one I encountered was helping digitize the rare book collection by scanning beautiful illustrations and photo slides. On...
Read More >

BRIT’s Computer Vision(aries)

This summer, four high school students from Trinity Valley School interned at BRIT through our Junior Volunteer/Intern program. These students were given the task of applying their computer science background to the challenge of helping BRIT create a quick and easy way to determine the fullness of our herbarium cabinets. By better understanding the details of the capacity of the cabinets, BRIT will be able to strategically plan for future growth and management of the herbarium collections. L to R: Ashia White, Kevin James, Jason Best, and Jacob Haydel I worked with students Grace Beasley, Jacob Haydel, Kevin James, and Ashia White to explore the process of using computer vision technology to analyze images of the open cabinets. We set out to extract details of each cabinet’s structure and...
Read More >

BRIT’s Computer Vision(aries)

High school students from Trinity Valley School spent their summer break utilizing their computer science skills to create a quick and easy way to determine the fullness of our herbarium cabinets.
Read More >

Survey of BRIT’s Tarrant County Bryophyte Collection

Bryophytes, defined by their lack of vascular tissue, are a category of smaller plants that include the mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.
Read More >