Brandy M. Carter
Education: Majoring in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology
McNair Project: Management of a Research Natural History Collection: KSU Herbarium (2013)
Mentor: Carolyn Ferguson, Ph.D.
Scientists, students, researchers, and even the curious public have many resources at their disposal when it comes to the study of our natural world. By far the best and most useful of these tools is a good collection of well-organized scientific specimens. In the field of Botany, this collection of carefully cataloged and dried specimens is called an herbarium, and is used for scientific research and study as well as teaching purposes. The herbarium at Kansas State University, located in Bushnell Hall, was established in 1877 and houses approximately 200,000 specimens and is one of the oldest in the Great Plains region. The KSU Herbarium is run by a small staff of students, professors, and other workers, who perform the day-to-day tasks of sourcing specimens, their sorting and evaluation, mounting, cataloging, preparation, and imaging. The task of managing all these workers and their different duties falls to the Herbarium's curator, who oversees all the aspects of the herbarium as well as maintaining relationships with other herbaria and museums. Running the KSU Herbarium is a complex job with many different facets and tasks, most of which I learned and performed over the space of two months at the KSU Herbarium, and the techniques I learned and will detail here are applicable to the management of any natural history collection.