From Plant Press Vol. 17 no. 2, April 2014.
By Nancy Khan and Warren Wagner
The Department of Botany is pleased to announce that a generous gift in 2013 from Christopher C. Smith, Professor Emeritus in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University and son of Lyman and Ruth Smith, has created a new endowment in support of early career research fellows in botany. The endowment, named the Lyman B. and Ruth C. Smith Endowment Fund, is designed to provide career development opportunities for young scientists to further their research and education through studies of plants at the U.S. National Herbarium (US) and through interactions with our research staff. This charitable gift will be held in a permanent fund with an annual award made to support and sustain the work of fellows in residence within the department.
Through this endowment Christopher Smith has created an enduring award that will continue to recognize the important contributions that Lyman Smith and his wife Ruth made to the field of botanical research. Lyman Smith began his distinguished career at Harvard University where as a doctoral candidate he made his first collecting trip to South America to collect bromeliads and other tropical plants in Brazil. In 1947 he joined the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany and worked as a Research Botanist in the museum for over 40 years, including many years after his retirement.
Lyman Smith was a dedicated taxonomist who studied and identified plants from a broad range of areas and groups and was widely recognized as a world authority on many tropical families, especially the bromeliads (Bromeliaceae). Over the course of his lengthy career he published prolifically, authoring over 1,700 new taxa and 519 publications, with his seminal work being a reorganization of the Bromeliaceae in Flora Neotropica which he completed between 1974 – 1979 during his tenure as an Emeritus Curator in the Department. He was founding member of the Bromeliad Society and accumulated many awards for his contributions to Bromeliad research (Taxon 46: 819-824; 1997). At least 50 species have been named in his honor, including two bromeliads discovered in South America as recently as 1999. Tillandsia lymanii Rauh and Mezobromelia lyman-smithii Rauh & Barthlott are fitting tributes in recognition of his legacy of exceptional scholarship in the field of tropical plants.