Research

Staff

Peter Fritsch, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research / Director of the Herbarium

Brooke Byerley Best, Ph.D.

Director of Research Programs

Manuela Dal Forno, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Morgan Gostel, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Alejandra Vasco, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Kim Norton Taylor

Conservation Research Botanist

Tiana Franklin Rehman

Herbarium Collections Manager

Jason Best

Director of Biodiversity Informatics

Barney L. Lipscomb

Director of BRIT Press and Library, Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany

Brandy Watts

BRIT Librarian

Kimberly Shay

Press Coordinator and Assistant Editor

Sydney Jackson

Conservation Technician & Herbarium Digitization Technician

Erin Flinchbaugh

Conservation Program Assistant

Diego Barroso

TORCH TCN Project Manager

The BRIT research staff strives to incorporate the "three Ds" into each of our projects: discovery, documentation, and dissemination. Our researchers generally focus their projects around the themes of biodiversity exploration, botany science core, and sustainability. By participating in a variety of projects around the world, from Peru and Jamaica to our home in Fort Worth, Texas, our researchers are always on the go...and always learning.

Research Projects
Recent Articles

1,000 Ascensions: Madagascar expedition

Climb 1,000 stairs, learn 1,000 new words, see 1,000 new things, share 1,000 conversations These are all just some of the steps involved in discovering new plant species and understanding plant biodiversity – or at least they were on my most recent trip to Madagascar in search of strange and wonderful plant life. The idea of 1,000 ascensions came to me on the second day in the field, on our way to Manongarivo Special Reserve – a protected area, managed by Madagascar National Parks in northwest Madagascar. As we came closer to Manongarivo, my colleagues explained a little about the park. In Malagasy, Manongarivo literally means “go up one thousand times” which refers to low mountains and hills that make up this region. If you want to go to Manongarivo, you better be prepared to go up 1,000...
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NSF Funded Plant Discovery in the Southern Philippines Project December 2019 Expedition

Expedition 2, led by Peter Fritsch of BRIT, will include 20 Filipino and international participants (botanists and lichenologists) who will survey Negros Island and the Marilog Forest on the island of Mindanao over the month of December 2019.
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Micromorphology of DFW Metroplex Fern and Lycophyte Spores

This article was written by Ivan Rosales, 2019 BRIT Summer Intern and student at University of Texas at Arlington. Ivan interned with Dr. Alejandra Vasco , working on fern diversity and anatomy. Who Would Have Thought to Look? The Micromorphology of DFW Metroplex Fern and Lycophyte Spores Anthony van Leeuwenhoek was a scientist from the Netherlands who discovered and described for the first-time bacteria, microscopic protists, sperm cells, blood cells, microscopic nematodes, rotifers, and much more. Even centuries after Leeuwenhoek first looked at a drop of pond water through his early microscope invention and saw microscopic creatures, people still asked, “Who would have thought to look?” I asked myself the same question after seeing my first mounted fern spore using BRIT’s Scanning Elect...
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Saga of the Texas Prairie

This article was written by Edward Bickett, 2019 BRIT Summer Intern and student at University of Texas at Arlington. Edward interned with Dr. Brooke Best and Resident Research Associate Dan Caudle , working with the All Saints Episcopal School Biodiversity Assessment Project within the Prairie Research Program (PReP). “What hidden treasures lie within this sea of grass?” Part One: The Lonesome Road The Lonesome Road, a misnomer in name as my companions kept me company, yet its length was undeniable. The Lonesome Road spanned the fields of Natural Prairie and The Cultivated Field alike, all the way into the tree line towards the eastern edge of the prairie. Through fields of lemon bee-balm and King Ranch bluestem. Past mesquite and hackberry the journey of the summer began with this transec...
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Summer in Paradise: Preserving Plant Genomes across Texas

This article was written by GGI-Gardens Summer 2019 Fellow, Seth Hamby. Texas is a state that you can drive through for 7 hours and still be in Texas, believe me we did it this summer! Because of its geographic location, geology, and rainfall gradient, Texas supports tons of different ecoregions, ecotones, and microhabitats that foster some of the highest biodiversity in the country, second only to California (obligatory “boo! hiss!”). Coming into the GGI-Gardens Fellowship I didn’t really know what to expect. I figured that we would devote most of our time to lab work and only get a few chances to go collecting out in the field. Little did I know that we would travel thousands of miles, spend countless hours in the field, collect amazing botanical wonders, and meet some of the coolest pla...
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Botanists Amidst the Texas Flora: A GGI Summer Fellowship

This article was written by GGI-Gardens Summer 2019 Fellow, Farahnoz Khojayori. Climbing up the Tobe Spring Trail over 7,000 feet elevation past rattlesnakes, tall evergreens, and countless thistles and shrubs I was not prepared for the view before me. With Mt. Livermore, to my left, as a tall indelible shadow providing shade against the hot July sun, I finally reached the spring. At a glance Tobe Spring seemed dry, and the small muddy ground was the only indication of this once integral water source. On closer look, however, numerous species of butterflies and moths could be seen gathered around the last remaining droplets of water. And next to them was a display of the most exuberant flowers of Aquilegia and many other plants I did not yet know. It was the most surreal ending to a summer...
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My Research Internship: An education beyond expectations

This article was written by Erin Flinchbaugh, 2019 BRIT Summer Intern and student at University of Texas at Arlington. Erin interned with Conservation Botanist Kim Taylor , working with the NatureServe Conservation Status Ranks and Mapping Rare Plants on Roadsides projects within the Texas Plant Conservation Program . Beginning my internship at BRIT, I expected many of my passions to be shared by the people surrounding me: a passion for our natural world, its conservation, restoration, and preservation were the common ground we shared. When I started my internship I didn’t expect to find myself invested in the direction of tiny hairs faced on a stem, squatting down in the dirt (and once an ant pile) to further inspect and then debate the trichomes. This summer I was mentored by Kim Taylor...
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Peter Fritsch Reporting on Field Research in the Philippines

The first expedition to the Philippines has been going splendidly, with many hundreds of collections, photographs, DNA samples, and associated field data being collected by the team. The four areas to be surveyed are Mount Marilog, Mount Limbawon, and Mount Hamiguitan, all on the island of Mindanao, and several peaks on Camiguin Island just off the north coast of Mindanao. From left to right, Gordon McPherson (Missouri Botanical Garden), Peter Fritsch (BRIT), and Victor Amoroso (Central Mindanao University) at the Mount Marilog Guest House, where we conducted the first leg of the overall expedition. The vicinity of Mount Marilog has been unexplored botanically until now, and so we are expecting a number of plant and lichen species new to science as a result of our work. Peter Fritsch in th...
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