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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation


Hunt Institute Director Robert W. Kiger retires, T. D. Jacobsen becomes director

8 August 2016

After directing the Hunt Institute for 39 years, Robert W. Kiger has retired. Effective 1 July 2016 Assistant Director T. D. Jacobsen became the fourth director since the Institute was dedicated in 1961 under the leadership of George H. M. Lawrence (1910–1978; founding director, 1960–1970).

Robert W. Kiger received his B.A. in Spanish from Tulane University and his M.A. in history of science and Ph.D. in systematic botany from the University of Maryland. Prior to joining the Institute as assistant director in 1974, he was research botanist and associate editor with the original Flora North America Program in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution. He became director and principal research scientist at the Hunt Institute in 1977, succeeding Gilbert S. Daniels (assistant director, 1967–1970; director, 1970–1977). Kiger's main research interests include: vascular plant taxonomy, especially of Flacourtiaceae, Talinum (fameflowers, Portulacaceae) and Papaver (poppies, Papaveraceae); floristics, especially of North America; evolutionary theory in relation to systematic principles and practice; botanical bibliography; and morphological terminology. As director and principal research scientist, emeritus, Kiger will continue his research projects and his work with the Flora of North America project, where he serves as a member of the Editorial Committee, the bibliographic editor and a taxonomic editor.

T. D. Jacobsen received his B.S. in biology from the College of Idaho and his M.S. and Ph.D. in systematic botany from Washington State University. He joined the Hunt Institute staff in 1979 and has been assistant director and principal research scientist since 1980. His main research interests include vascular taxonomy, especially of Allium (onion, Liliaceae) in North America, and toxic plants and fungi. For the FNA project, he and Dale McNeal, a colleague at the University of the Pacific, prepared the treatment of Allium (onions and their relatives), the native species of which are widely distributed throughout the continent; there are approximately 90 species and varieties in the flora area. Additionally Jacobsen prepared the treatment for Nothoscordum (relative of onions, Liliaceae). An application for online identification of more than 325 native and exotic vascular plant genera found in North America was developed by Jacobsen, Kiger, F. H. Utech, D. M. Kiger and E. R. Smith in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Poison Center. To aid identification, they produced a directory that contained representative illustrations of all the genera found in the program. Jacobsen collaborated with Dr. Edward P. Krenzelok, who was director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, in the systematic investigation of pediatric plant poisoning. The project involved the statistical analysis of the clinical data on plant poisonings recorded by the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (AAPCC TESS).

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About the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Media Contact:
Scarlett T. Townsend