Faculty Highlights

Kirsten Fisher, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been awarded a $55,251 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to digitize Cal State LA Herbarium’s plant collection as part of a California wide collaboration to understand the effects of climate change on flowering time.

The Herbarium at Cal State LA will digitize 35,000 plant specimens, which are used in teaching and research. The specimens emphasize holdings from the Mojave Desert, Peninsular Ranges, and Los Angeles Basin, and will provide a long-term reference of the plants of Southern California and beyond.  The funds will be used to improve herbarium infrastructure and support undergraduate and graduate students who will participate in this effort.

The California wide project, called Capturing California’s Flowers (CCF), will produce nearly 1 million digital images of the plant specimens housed in herbaria throughout California. The award also establishes the Thematic Collection Network (TCN) dedicated to understanding flowering time shifts in the California flora. These plant records go back almost 200 years and have data about when and where the plant specimen was collected.  This project will capture the time and place of each collection as well as data about the flowering and fruiting condition of each specimen. This will allow researchers to combine the historical data with current flowering time trends. 

All of the images and data will be made available to the public via a new online database.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.8 million for this project. The funds are spread out among 22 participating herbaria throughout the state.