interesting problems in plant systematics

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Wed Mar 19 23:35:05 EST 1997

The lack of response does not surprise me. Most professional plant science
societies have done a poor job of supporting education. The lack of
support is especially evident at the precollege level where high school
biology texts are often filled with factual errors about botany. One high
school biology text has the following James Thurber quote prominently

"I passed all the other courses that I took at my university, but I could
never pass botany ..." 

A few years ago there was a national furor when the talking Barbie doll said 
"Math is tough." Yet plant science societies raised not a peep about the 
above quote.

David R. Hershey

Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1340

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Dept.
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at


On 19 Mar 1997, Lenore Durkee wrote:

> I want to thank all of you who responded to my reiteration of the student
> question--"What are the most interesting and/or challenging probelms facing
> plant systematists today" (or something to that effect).
> Many of you mentioned the great need for qualified people to identify
> plants that are endangered or threatened. Others remarked on the change in
> hierarchical thinking that could be precipitated by cladistics. Stll others
> mentioned
> computer applications to systematics problems.
> My main concern is that I received practically no response (actually, just
> one) from the TAXACOMers. The replies came from the plant-eders!!
> I really do appreciate that people are busy and that taxonomists are often
> away from their workplaces and actually doing taxonomy; but the general
> lack of response from this group is troubling for it seems to me that
> professional taxonomists run great risk if students don't develop an
> interest in the discipline; potential taxonomists will be lost to other
> disciplines.
> Please--encourage the young men and women who are being educated now at
> colleges  like Grinnell. Some of them are your future graduate students and
> field assistants. They are the future of the discipline.--Lenore Durkee
> Lenore Durkee                   durkeel at
> Department of Biology           515-269-3035 (office)
> Grinnell College                515-269-3027 (laboratory)
> P.O. 805                        515-269-4285 (FAX)
> Grinnell, Iowa 50112

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