Alejandra Vasco, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Ph. D. in Biology, City University of New York/ New York Botanical Garden, 2010
M.S. in Biology, City University of New York/ the New York Botanical Garden, 2007
B.S. in Biology, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia, 2002

My main research interests are fern taxonomy and systematics, the genetic networks controlling leaf development in ferns, and the comparative morpho-anatomy of leaves in ferns. I lead the Taxonomy and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes Program at BRIT, where I work since 2017. I obtained my B.S. in Biology from the University of Antioquia, in my native Colombia, and my PhD in Botany as part of the joint program between the City University of New York and the New York Botanical Garden

In the Ferns and Lycophytes Program at BRIT we focus 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 and are always happy to have students.  


Selected Publications:

Vasco, A.; Ambrose, B.A. 2020. Simple and divided leaves in ferns: Exploring the genetic basis for leaf morphology differences in the genus Elaphoglossum (Dryopteridaceae). International Journal of  Molecular Sciences 21, 5180.

Matos, F., Vasco, A. & Moran, R.C. 2018. Elaphoglossum doanense and E. tonduzii: new members of Elaphoglossumsect. Squamipedia (Dryopteridaceae) and their significance for inferring the evolution of rhizome habit and nest-forming leaves within the genus. International Journal of Plant Sciences 179: 296-313doi: 10.1086/696687

Vasco, A., Smalls, T. L., Graham, S. W., Cooper, E. D., Wong, G.K-S., Stevenson, D. W., Moran, R. C. & Ambrose, B. A. 2016. Challenging the paradigms of leaf evolution: Class III HD-Zips in ferns and lycophytes. New Phytologist 212 (3): 745–758doi: 10.1111/nph.14075

Mynssen, C. M., Vasco, A., Moran, R.C., Sylestre, L.S. & Rouhan. G. 2016. Desmophlebiaceae and Desmophlebium: A new family and genus of Eupolypod II ferns. Taxon 65 (1): 19-34. doi: 10.12705/651.2

Vasco, A., Mickel, J.T.  & Moran, R.C. 2013. Taxonomic revision of the Neotropical species of Elaphoglossum sect. Squamipedia (Dryopteridaceae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 99 (2): 244-286. doi: 10.3417/2012038