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Witsell Named Research Associate

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Monday, August 25, 2014

ANHC Botanist Theo Witsell was recently named a Research Associate of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). Focused on conservation and knowledge sharing, BRIT serves as a plant information center for scientists and professionals, and an interpretation center for people wanting to learn more about the plant world and how they can help conserve earth's natural heritage for future generations.

Theo Witsell at Little Fir Barrens

The BRIT Herbarium contains more than a million plant specimens, making it the largest independent herbarium in the United States and one of the largest scientific plant collections in North America. BRIT is dedicated to supporting science and increasing its collections by discovering and documenting plant diversity both regionally and globally, and by teaching conservation science through public education.

Research Associates don’t work as paid employees of BRIT but are recognized collaborators from other institutions and agencies. By making Research Associate appointments “BRIT demonstrates its recognition of the major contributions by some individuals, indicates the association of the appointee with BRIT, and establishes a basis for preferential use of Institute facilities.” Specifically research associates receive certain privileges such as research space at BRIT, preferential access to the BRIT herbarium and library, and enjoy a close collaborative relationship with BRIT staff.

While previously less formal, Theo’s relationship with BRIT goes back more than a decade. He has deposited many specimens in the BRIT Herbarium and has published several papers in their scientific journals Sida, Contributions to Botany and Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. He’s also worked closely with some of their researchers, especially Dr. Dwayne Estes, on various projects.

Last fall, Theo traveled to Fort Worth to give an invited lecture as part of BRIT’s Reimagining American Landscapes lecture series. This talk focused on ANHC’s work studying, protecting, and restoring rare grassland communities in Arkansas. Following the lecture, he stayed at BRIT for several days doing research in the BRIT herbarium and in the field with scientists from BRIT.
Theo Witsell pictured with a pondberry plant

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