From Plant Press Vol. 17 no. 1, January 2014
By Vicki Funk
In 2013 the National Museum of Natural History’s Collections Program initiated a new initiative that provides funding for graduate students. The goal is to provide financial support to graduate students while at the same time achieving collections management goals, particularly the generation of new collections catalog (EMu) records. Funding is competitive. Proposals must be initiated by NMNH staff members who are advisors or co-advisors to the student that would benefit from the funding. Funding is not available to continue the student’s or advisor’s work; rather, these awards are to work on high priority collections condition or information projects that meet the museum’s needs while providing training and experience in curatorial techniques.
For the 2013-2014 academic year, Aleks Radosavljevic is working with Vicki Funk to sort and digitize a large backlog of the unprocessed material left behind by José Cuatrecasas. At the time of his passing in 1996, the prolific Cuatrecasas had nearly 60 herbarium cases of partially processed plant material that he had (at one point or another in his long career) been actively working on. While the Department of Botany has made great progress in processing this material over the nearly two decades since his death, there are still over 7,000 specimens that need to be sorted, mounted and cataloged. These collections span the career of Cuatrecasas and, while they are primarily from the Andean regions of Colombia and Venezuela, they include a great diversity of plant families.