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55th CBHL Annual Meeting 2023

A LibGuide for the CBHL Annual Meeting in 2023, hosted virtually by the Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Guest Speakers

Guest Speakers

Barney Lipscomb, M.S.

"Hidden Gardens of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden: A Celebration of the Herbarium and Library Research Collections of BRIT"

Barney Lipscomb is a botanist, educator, public speaker, and researcher who began his career at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1975 and is now the Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth.  His research interests include the flora of Texas, taxonomy of Cyperaceae (the sedge family), poisonous plants, the application of botany to forensic science, and natural history art as it relates to science.  He has co-authored three books, contributed more than 30 scientific articles, and given more than 700 public lectures to advance the public’s understanding of botany.  Most recently Barney and George Diggs of Austin College have co-authored the book “The Ferns and Lycophytes of Texas”.

Alejandra Vasco, Ph.D.

Dr. Vasco will be speaking about the Ferns of Colombia project she is spearheading as well as "Illuminations: Past, Present, and Future of Fern Research" - a tripartite art exhibition featuring fern vouchers from Colombia and other BRIT Herbarium specimens.  This art exhibition emerged from a research-based creative collaboration between Dr. Vasco, renowned environmental artist Dornith Doherty, Herbarium Director Tiana Rehman, and Librarian Ana Niño.

Alejandra Vasco is a Research Botanist at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.  She received a PhD in Biology from The City University of New York and The New York Botanical Garden, and a BS in Biology from the Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia.  Alejandra’s research focus is on the diversity and evolution of ferns.  Together with colleagues Weston Testo and Michael Sundue, Alejandra leads Ferns of Colombia, a project funded by the National Science Foundation to document and explore the high diversity of ferns in Colombia.

Tom Shay, Ph.D.

"The Wandering Watermelon: A Bittersweet Tale"

Domesticated in Africa, watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) spread around the world. They are now enjoyed by a host of cultures and are part of many cuisines. From the walls of Egyptian tombs to ancient Chinese fields, from the pages of the Koran to the writings of Mark Twain, these bright pink fruits have captivated the world. Watermelons are annuals, growing from seed every year. In Africa and elsewhere, people relished the sweet flesh and either ate the fat-and-protein-rich seeds or used them as medicine. The Spanish introduced watermelons to the Americas: first into Mexico and the West Indies, then by the early 1600s, into the southeastern United States. Beginning about the same time, slave ships from Africa also carried melon, along with other crop seeds, to the Americas. In their small food gardens, enslaved people across the south grew these and such things as okra, peanuts, and other African domesticates. Yet, watermelons possess a bitter side. Images of the watermelon have been used to denigrate non-White ethnic groups, especially Black Americans. This racist trope lasted well into the Twentieth Century and still rears its ugly head on occasion today.  

CThomas Shay is a senior scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of Under Prairie Skies: The Plants and Native Peoples of the Northern Plains (Bison Books, July 2022). 


Ashley Bordelon
Natch Rodriguez
Kimberlie Sasan

“Women Documenting the Floras of Texas and Oklahoma”

Nearly 2 million plant specimens are estimated to have been collected in Texas and Oklahoma, including the contributions of hundreds of botanists and naturalists.  Ashley Bordelon, Natch Rodriguez, and Kimberlie Sasan will be telling the stories of a few important women botanists who contributed to these collections and whose influence has reached beyond herbarium cabinets through photography, illustrations, books, publications, and more.

Ashley Bordelon grew up in the creeks and forests around DFW, but truly discovered her passion for the environment while obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Biology degree at the University of Alabama. During her time in Tuscaloosa, she worked at the University of Alabama Herbarium (UNA) focusing on imaging specimens. After graduation, she wanted to continue working with plants and was elated to have found a position at in Fort Worth do just that. 

Natch Rodriguez joined the BRIT team in the summer of 2017 as an intern for the Herbarium and Education departments and continued to volunteer their time in the years since. Natch is currently employed part time as a herbarium digitization technician on a grant-funded project, but also devotes some time to various outreach projects in Research and Education, as well as contributing to the IDEA committee. They are passionate about plant ecology and ecological restoration. In their free time they enjoy pursuing creative projects which intersect education, the environment, and art. Natch has often created coloring sheets and flyers for some of the BRIT's events!

Kimberlie Sasan is an Herbarium and Research Assistant at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden and Botanical Research Institute of Texas. She provides administrative support to the Ferns of Colombia research team, assists with DNA extractions of collected specimens, and oversees preservation and digitization of dried specimens at deposited at BRIT.