Linda E. Watson

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Linda E. Watson, Professor of Plant Biology (2008-present), Department Head (2008-16), Oklahoma State University. Assistant, Associate, and Professor of Botany (1995-08), Department Chair (2003-08), Miami University (Ohio). Rare Plant Botanist (1988-95), Program Coordinator (1993-95), Oklahoma Biological Survey, University of Oklahoma. Ph.D. Botany/Plant Systematics, University of Oklahoma (1989).


My research interests are focused on Plant Systematics and Evolution. I employ molecular data to resolve evolutionary relationships in the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae), and am part of a multi-institutional collaboration to utilize phylogenomics data to understand the family’s historical biogeography, patterns of species diversification (especially as it relates to whole genome duplication), and the evolution of key morphological traits that have led to its extraordinary success. My research has included fieldwork on four continents, and conferences have taken me to five, leaving Antarctica as the only continent I have never visited. I have successfully mentored 10 Ph.D. and 3 M.S. students and a whole host of undergraduates, and served on an additional 25 graduate committees. My students have published on the Cochlopermaceae, Polypodiaceae, Pteridaceae, Orchidaceae, Piperaceae, Eriocaulaceae, Rubiaceae, and Asteraceae. I also have hosted a pre-doctoral fellow, 5 postdoctoral researchers, and 6 visiting scientists.


I have been a member of the Botanical Society of America for 35 years, and most recently served on the Committee on Committees (2016-19) and Education Committee (2010-13). I became deeply engaged in service to professional societies through one of BSA’s sister societies, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, where I served on the Council as Treasurer (2005-10) and as President (3-year term included President-Elect, Past President; 2010-13), in addition to serving on the ASPT Nominations (2018-20, Diversity Liaison) and Finance (2002-05 & 2014-17) Committees. While serving on the Board of ASPT, we instituted travel grants to the annual Botany conference and significantly increased the budget for research grants for students. We developed a deeper understanding into our income streams and our income/expense ratio, and significantly increased the endowed accounts through fund raising, savings, and investments. That said, it is important to point out that these were truly team efforts. I am presently on the Editorial Board (2008-) for Flora of Oklahoma, Inc. and serve as Treasurer (2014-). While I have served on numerous university committees throughout my career, I most recently served on the OSU Women’s Faculty Council, Executive Committee (2014-17) and as Chair (2015-16). I participated in institutional programs to advance women and minorities in STEM fields through an NSF ADVANCE-PAID grant to OSU (2009-12), and served on the OSU Steering Committee (2015-16) for submission of an NSF ADVANCE-Institutional Transformation proposal.


BSA has a stellar reputation, and its broad and deep mission focused on plants is what inspires and motivates me to serve BSA’s membership, if provided the opportunity and the privilege. If elected, I would continue with initiatives underway that move the society forward on many fronts including publications and strengthening its diverse and inclusive membership. I would work to create new opportunities that support students in their professional goals, as well as to develop new initiatives to ensure the longevity and success of the society.