Date: 8/2/2004 8:00:00 AM
PROFILE: VOLUNTEER CULTIVATES MCMICKEN'S NOT-SO-SECRET HERBARIUM
Every college has its secret places, forgotten or unknown treasures that hold keys to the future as well as the past and present. One of these on UCís campus is McMicken Collegeís herbarium, a quiet room that sits in 1600 Crosley Tower above the noise of construction and chattering students rushing to class. Its unassuming appearance, that of a large room filled with cabinets containing pressed and dried plants, belies it significance.
What most of the public doesnít know is that McMickenís herbarium ranks among the top ten percent in the United States because of the size of its collection, its range, and its scientific value. When Margaret Fulford, professor of botany, began the facility, there were only thirteen sheets of pressed plants. Today there are more than 70,000 specimens, many of them unique.
These will be part of the Curtis Gates Lloyd (1859-1926) collection that is on permanent loan to UC from the Lloyd Library. Lloyd was an amateur botanist who searched the globe in the late 1800s for medicinally important plants to be used in the family's Homeopathic Medicine Company. In addition to the thousands of specimens he personally collected, thousands of others were sent to him from around the world, primarily by Jesuit missionaries. Lloyd pressed each specimen, glued it to an individual page on which he made notations, and inserted it into one of several large books to be used for future reference.
Soukupís contributions donít stop with the Lloyd collection, however. A specialist in the plant genus Trillium, he has discovered, several new species, and his collecting trips to China and Japan have boosted the reputation of the Trillium collection to one of the best in the world. In addition, Soukup enhances UCís stature by facilitating loans from the herbarium to museums and universities around the globe. He has also assisted the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in a project to document changes in the number of native plants in the Cincinnati area since the early 1800s.
Professor Soukupís reputation reaches far beyond UC and its herbarium. He has received worldwide attention for his extensive and ongoing study of wildflowers of the globally dispersed Jack-in-the-Pulpit family, and his research has been reported at national and international meetings and in several journals. He recently authored a chapter in The New Flora of China, and his work is cited throughout The Orchids of Venezuela.
In a very real sense, Victor Soukup is a man for all seasons in a place that is not so secret after all.
For more UC news, go to www.uc.edu/news/