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Rich plant documentation lecture April 8

Upper Iowa University Professor of Science and Robert L. Fox Endowed Chair of Science Dr. Scott Figdore will present “Documenting Northeast Iowa’s Rich Plant Diversity” Monday, April 8, at UIU’s Fayette Campus. The free public program will begin at 5 p.m. in the Liberal Arts auditorium.

Dr. Scott Figdore

As part of the program, Figdore will provide an overview of herbarium sample collection and preservation efforts at Upper Iowa over the past 160 years. He will discuss the use of herbarium samples both as archival records of plant diversity and as educational tools for students interested in careers in the field sciences.

“A special portion of the presentation features the recent project to document the historic importance of some herbarium samples from the late 1800’s, which were contributed by various collectors, and are now housed in the C.C. Parker Herbarium of Upper Iowa University,” Figdore said.

The Upper Iowa University Herbarium was recently renamed to honor Dr. Charles Coleman (C.C.) Parker, UIU’s first professor of natural sciences and Fayette’s first town doctor, who also served in the 12th Iowa Infantry Regiment (University Recruits) during the Civil War as a regimental surgeon. Parker was reported to have collected nearly 500 herbarium specimens in the 1860s and 1870s, including several rare specimens no longer typically found in the region.

Thanks to a generous gift from descendants of Parker, Figdore has been working with the UIU Herbarium collections to review and update information on the samples so that they can be appropriately recognized and utilized for their archival or historical significance by the scientific community.

With over 25 years of service at UIU, Figdore served as the inaugural dean of the School of Science and Mathematics, before retiring from that position to return to fulltime teaching duties. The Robert L. Fox Endowed Chair of Science was initiated by a generous gift from members of the Parker, Fox, and Goebel families. The first recipient of the Robert L. Fox Endowed Chair was the late Professor Emeritus Lew Churbuck.  At the time of his honor, Churbuck was the curator of the Upper Iowa University Herbarium. Figdore assumed the duties of the curator position after Professor Churbuck’s retirement in May 2007.

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