Peter Fritsch, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research / Director of the Herbarium

Brooke Byerley Best, Ph.D.

Director of Research Programs

Jason Best

Director of Biodiversity Informatics

Barney L. Lipscomb

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

Tiana Franklin Rehman

Herbarium Collections Manager

Diego Barroso

TORCH TCN Project Manager

Ashley Bordelon

Digitization Coordinator

Rachel Carmickle

Herbarium Technician

Kelly Carroll

Herbarium Digitization Technician

Manuela Dal Forno, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Erin Flinchbaugh

Conservation Program Assistant

Morgan Gostel, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Jessica Lane

Herbarium Assistant

Joe Lippert

Digitization Coordinator

Bob O'Kennon

Research Scientist

Natch Rodriguez

Herbarium Digitization Technician

Kimberly Shay

Press Coordinator and Assistant Editor

Kim Norton Taylor

Conservation Research Botanist

Alejandra Vasco, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Brandy Watts

BRIT Librarian

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

Botany, Ecology, and Nature

Explorers by nature.

BRIT and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden are pleased to offer this series of classes and workshops that focus on giving participants hands-on, experience-based education in the fields of plant and wildlife science, conservation, sustainability, and ecology. These unique classes and workshops (most featuring field investigations or lab work) enhance participants' prior education, offering the opportunity to assemble a new set of skills. Participants enjoy interaction with professionals in their field of interest. 

Upcoming Events
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Walking Class: Tinsley Garden

Walking Class: Native American Plant Uses in North Central Texas

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Research Projects

Taxonomy and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes Program

The Taxonomy and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes Program at BRIT is led by Research Botanist Dr. Alejandra Vasco.

The Program focuses broadly on taxonomy, systematics, and evolution of these two plant lineages. We ask questions about species diversity, evolutionary relationships among taxa, trait evolution using comparative methods, and the role that genes play in plant morphological diversity. Our work, whether on ferns or lycophytes, integrates techniques from several disciplines, including traditional specimen-based research in herbaria, fieldwork, anatomy, phylogenetic systematics, and evolutionary genomics. We are a diverse team with many ongoing projects.  


Recent Articles

NSF Awards $1.9M to Support Plant Exploration

FORT WORTH, Texas (January 19, 2021) — The Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Botanical Research Institute of Texas (FWBG|BRIT) recently received two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants totaling $1.9 million to support botanists and their research teams in plant diversity studies at home and abroad. A team led by Research Botanist Alejandra Vasco will receive $1.1 million to study the diversity of ferns in Colombia. A second team, led by Vice President of Research and Director of the Herbarium Peter Fritsch, will receive about $780,000 over three years to study North American blueberries. “These grants are an endorsement by the NSF of the excellent reputations of our scientists and the quality of their research,” said President and Executive Director Ed Schneider. “Both of these projects see...
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FWBG | BRIT Research Teams Awarded More Than $1.95M for Plant Exploration at Home and Abroad

Last December, two BRIT botanists and their teams of colleagues were awarded separate grants from the National Science Foundation’s Systematics & Biodiversity Science Program for a combined total of $1,950,000. Drs. Alejandra Vasco (L) and Weston Testo (R) display their collections of Elaphoglossum ferns at a study site in South America in 2018. Dr. Alejandra Vasco, a fern expert, and her team of colleagues will receive $1.1M over four years to support the project “Accelerating Lineage Discovery to Document Neotropical Fern Diversity.” Beginning in late summer of this year, the team will study the diversity of ferns in Colombia, one of the most species-rich countries on Earth. Working with two graduate students and more than a dozen undergraduates, Dr. Vasco and her colleagues Dr. Weston T...
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Prescribed Burn Planned for BRIT Prairie

FORT WORTH, Texas (January 12, 2020) — The Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Botanical Research Institute of Texas (FWBG | BRIT) working with the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and Fort Worth Fire Department (FWFD) will host a prescribed burn of the BRIT Prairie at 2 p.m. Jan. 13. This is located at the corner of Trail Drive and University Drive. The event represents multiple organizations collaborating for numerous scientific, educational and community benefits. “This burn serves many purposes, but from our perspective, the most important is changing cultural mindsets toward acceptance of prescribed burning in Fort Worth parks, urban, urban areas, Dallas-Fort Worth and throughout the state,” said Daniel Price, natural resource manager with the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. The Fort Wort...
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Learning to “Bee” a Pollinator Supporter at the Pecan Creek Pollinative Prairie

This following is part of the “Where Are They Now?”series featuring guest posts from former interns, volunteers, staff, and friends of BRIT. This month’s post is from former BRIT intern, Delany Baum. Delany interned with the Texas Plant Conservation Program in Summer and Fall 2019. In 2016, staff and students within the ecology department at the University of North Texas in Denton stared at a four-acre plot surrounding the engineering campus at Discovery Park and saw nothing but Bermuda grass. With an extensive background in urban conservation and restoration ecology, Dr. Jaime Baxter-Slye wanted to transform this empty field into a pollinator sanctuary of native North Central Texas plants. In May of that year, Baxter-Slye received funding from the We Mean Green Fund , a sustainability ini...
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1,000 Ascensions: Madagascar expedition

Climb 1,000 stairs, learn 1,000 new words, see 1,000 new things, share 1,000 conversations These are all just some of the steps involved in discovering new plant species and understanding plant biodiversity – or at least they were on my most recent trip to Madagascar in search of strange and wonderful plant life. The idea of 1,000 ascensions came to me on the second day in the field, on our way to Manongarivo Special Reserve – a protected area, managed by Madagascar National Parks in northwest Madagascar. As we came closer to Manongarivo, my colleagues explained a little about the park. In Malagasy, Manongarivo literally means “go up one thousand times” which refers to low mountains and hills that make up this region. If you want to go to Manongarivo, you better be prepared to go up 1,000...
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NSF Funded Plant Discovery in the Southern Philippines Project December 2019 Expedition

Expedition 2, led by Peter Fritsch of BRIT, will include 20 Filipino and international participants (botanists and lichenologists) who will survey Negros Island and the Marilog Forest on the island of Mindanao over the month of December 2019.
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Micromorphology of DFW Metroplex Fern and Lycophyte Spores

This article was written by Ivan Rosales, 2019 BRIT Summer Intern and student at University of Texas at Arlington. Ivan interned with Dr. Alejandra Vasco , working on fern diversity and anatomy. Who Would Have Thought to Look? The Micromorphology of DFW Metroplex Fern and Lycophyte Spores Anthony van Leeuwenhoek was a scientist from the Netherlands who discovered and described for the first-time bacteria, microscopic protists, sperm cells, blood cells, microscopic nematodes, rotifers, and much more. Even centuries after Leeuwenhoek first looked at a drop of pond water through his early microscope invention and saw microscopic creatures, people still asked, “Who would have thought to look?” I asked myself the same question after seeing my first mounted fern spore using BRIT’s Scanning Elect...
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Saga of the Texas Prairie

This article was written by Edward Bickett, 2019 BRIT Summer Intern and student at University of Texas at Arlington. Edward interned with Dr. Brooke Best and Resident Research Associate Dan Caudle , working with the All Saints Episcopal School Biodiversity Assessment Project within the Prairie Research Program (PReP). “What hidden treasures lie within this sea of grass?” Part One: The Lonesome Road The Lonesome Road, a misnomer in name as my companions kept me company, yet its length was undeniable. The Lonesome Road spanned the fields of Natural Prairie and The Cultivated Field alike, all the way into the tree line towards the eastern edge of the prairie. Through fields of lemon bee-balm and King Ranch bluestem. Past mesquite and hackberry the journey of the summer began with this transec...
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