From Plant Press, Vol. 17, No. 4, October 2014.
Amanda Grusz joined the Botany Department as a postdoctoral fellow in May 2014, working with Eric Schuettpelz. Grusz received her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and she recently completed her Ph.D. in Biology and Genetics at Duke University. Her dissertation research focused on the evolution and systematics of the desert-adapted fern genus Myriopteris (Pteridaceae). Specifically, she explored how hybridization, polyploidy, and apomixis influence the evolution and diversification of this ecologically extreme lineage. Following the completion of her degree, Grusz coordinated the 2014 Tropical Plant Systematics Course offered by the Organization for Tropical Studies (San Jose, Costa Rica), alongside Mauricio Bonifacino (previously of the NMNH Botany Department). Now, as a Smithsonian postdoctoral fellow, Grusz is working to develop phylogenomic resources with which to explore the evolution of extreme rates of molecular substitution exhibited by the vittariod ferns, a lineage of tropical epiphytes in the Pteridaceae.
Kuang-chi Hung, a Smithsonian Fellow in the History of Science and Technology, was in Washington through August 2014. He was exploring the role that the Smithsonian Institution played in advancing research in biogeography and allied fields (e.g., paleontology and archaeology) in Asia during the first half of the 20th century. Although much of his research was in the Smithsonian Institution Archives and the Freer and Sackler Gallery Archives, he was no stranger to the Department of Botany. Hung recently received his Ph.D. from Harvard University with a thesis entitled “Finding Patterns in Nature: Asa Gray's Plant Geography and Collecting Networks (1830s-1860s).” Janet Browne in the Department of the History of Science was his major advisor. Laurence J. Dorr (Botany) and Pamela Henson (Smithsonian Institution Archives) served as Hung’s hosts. He has since taken a professorship in Taiwan.
Sonja Walch, currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna, Austria was awarded a Smithsonian fellowship from the History of Science and Technology pool and is in residence in Washington from August through November 2014. She is interested in the history of post WWII botany (and science) in the Pacific and the interactions of American and exiled European botanists whose careers intersected in the Philippines. She will continue to research the activities of the Austrian botanist Mona Lisa Steiner who lived in the Philippines in exile from 1938 onward and Steiner’s interactions with the late F. Raymond Fosberg among others. Laurence J. Dorr (Botany) and Pamela Henson (Smithsonian Institution Archives) are Walch’s hosts.