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Meet the ANHC Herbarium Staff

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The ANHC Herbarium staff consists of Ecologist, Chief of Research, and Curator Theo Witsell; Botanist and Collections Manager Brent Baker; Botanist and Arkansas Herbarium Digitization Coordinator Diana Soteropoulos; and Contract Herbarium Researcher and Field Botanist Molly Robinson.

Theo Witsell
Ecologist/Chief of Research/Curator

Theo Witsell got his foot in the door at the ANHC as an intern back in 1995 after he switched from engineering school to enroll in the biology program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After graduation, he was hired as ANHC botanist and served in that capacity for nearly 19 years before becoming Chief of Research in 2019. He has also worked extensively as a contract botanist and ecologist for a variety of federal, state, and non-profit conservation entities. He is presently coordinating the ANHC’s first-ever County Natural Heritage Inventories in Benton and Washington counties. When he isn’t thinking about native plants, animals, and natural communities he is probably asleep and dreaming about them.

Brent Baker
Botanist/Collections Manager

Brent Baker is an alumnus of the University of Central Arkansas, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and a Master of Science in biology with an emphasis in botany. He has been a botanist and the herbarium collections manager at ANHC since 2009, where he has worked to document and monitor rare plant populations throughout the state, to botanically inventory ecologically significant natural areas, and to help grow the ANHC Herbarium collection. He has also been an active member of the Arkansas Native Plant Society since 2003. In his free time, Brent enjoys gardening with native plants and working on habitat restoration on his property.

Diana Soteropoulos
Botanist/Arkansas Herbarium Digitization Coordinator

Diana Soteropoulos is the newest botanist at the ANHC and a doctoral candidate at Arkansas State University. Since 2017 Diana has been studying floristics in Arkansas, documenting why it is still important to conduct systematic surveys for plants. She has found over 200 county records (the first documentation of a plant species presence) at Pine City Natural Area in Monroe County. Additionally, Diana is looking for undocumented rare sedge populations in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain utilizing species distribution modelling, a tool which can also help identify areas for conservation in the heavily modified landscape of the Delta. In her free time, Diana enjoys sewing and recreating plants to scale in multi-media form.

Molly Robinson
Contract Herbarium Researcher/Field Botanist

Molly Robinson is a Hendrix College alumna with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies who is passionate about botany and the conservation of rare and endemic native plants. In fall and winter of 2018, Molly completed a botany and ecology internship at the ANHC. Since then, she has been working for the ANHC Herbarium and assisting with fieldwork as an independent contractor. On her own time, she collects vascular plants and mosses to donate to the ANHC Herbarium while improving her knowledge of the flora of Arkansas.

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