Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1960 v6 No 1 Spring
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
VOLUME 6 JANUARY 1960 NUMBER 1
A Botanical Education Program For The Society'
VICTOR A. GREULACH
University of North Carolina
The Botanical Society of America has been a pioneer in dealing with the educational aspects of its discipline. Al-though the present Committee on Education was not established until 1952, its predecessor committees and members of the Society individually have been concerned with the problems of botanical education at least since the turn of the century (Sinnott, E. W., Plant Science Bulletin 2(3) : 3-4, Oct. 1956), long before many scientists and most scientific societies developed their present intense interest in the improvement of education in the sciences.
The Committee on Education has been reviewing the role it should play in view of the extensive and highly subsidized studies and projects in biological education now in progress. It believes it has a very important role to play currently as the only nationally organized group primarily concerned with botanical education. Using the term "education" in a broad sense, the Committee has identified three areas of botanical education in which it believes the Society and its members individually should be active: T. Formal botanical education at the university, college, and secondary levels; 2. The botanical education of the general public, with regard to both botanical information and some understanding of the nature and significance of modern botany: and 3. The provision of information about the character and importance of botany and the role it should play in higher education to our colleagues in other disciplines, and to administrative officials, with an aim toward maintaining and improving the status of botany in American colleges and universities.
In each of these three areas the Committee has considered certain activities and projects that it believes would con-tribute toward the improvement of botanical education. Some of these can best be carried on by members of the Society individually, while others would require organized action by the Committee on Education or the Society as a whole. These proposals would probably require some subsidy, but to a rather modest degree by present day standards. The proposed activities are outlined below in the hope that individual activity by members of the Society will be stimulated in the appropriate areas, and that members will also provide the Committee with their opinions and suggestions on the projects proposed for Committee or Society ac-
1This is not a formal report of the Committee on Education, but it summarizes points of view resulting from the deliberations of the Committee. tion. In addition, the Committee would be glad to receive proposals for other types of activity in each of the three areas, and will be pleased to hear from any member who would be interested in participating in any of the proposed projects if they are activated.
1. Formal Botanical Instruction
Despite the large number of organized groups working toward the improvement of instruction in the sciences, any real improvement depends in the final analysis on what individual instructors are doing in their classrooms and lab-oratories. At this local level many botanists are and have been much concerned with improved classroom and laboratory procedures, more adequate testing programs, ways of stimulating the interest of superior students in careers in botany, keeping their courses up to date, selecting the most desirable course content, and devising better curricula. Too few, however, have shared the results of their efforts with colleagues elsewhere, and we recommend that many more do so by contributing articles to Plant Science Bulletin and other suitable publications, by presenting papers in the Teaching Section, and by cooperating with the various national study and work groups as opportunities present them-selves.
Another way some individuals can aid their colleagues who are teaching introductory courses in general botany, general biology, or high school biology is by writing non-technical review articles covering recent developments in areas of botany pertinent to such introductory courses. While the Scientific American, Endeavour, Science, the Quarterly Review of Biology, Natural History, the American Scientist and other journals publish a good many botanical reviews of about the right level, numerous areas of botany (particularly the less active and glamorous ones) included in introductory courses need up-to-date non-technical reviewing. A related type of article, now almost non-existent, that is badly needed would be concerned with botanical topics about which there is extensive misinformation current in biology textbooks and elsewhere. High school biology teachers and some of the zoologists who teach general biology and rely heavily on their textbooks for botanical information are particularly in need of the help that articles of this type could provide.
(Continued on page 2)
CHANGES OF ADDRESS: Notify the Treasurer of the Botanical Society of America, Inc., Dr. A. J. Sharp, Department of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville r6, Tennessee.
Subscriptions for Libraries and persons not members of the Botanical Society are obtainable at the rate of $2.00 a year. Send orders with checks payable to "Botanical Society of America, Inc." to the Editor.
Material submitted for publication should be typewritten, double-spaced, and sent in duplicate to the Editor.
New Editorial Board
At the end of 1959, George S. Avery, Jr., Harriet B. Creighton, and Paul B. Sears retired from the Editorial Board of Plant Science Bulletin. They had served on the Board since this publication was founded. The Botanical Society of America owes these members a debt of gratitude for their devotion and great service to the Bulletin during the past five years. Three new members were appointed to the Board as of January 1, 196o. They are Norman H. Boke, Elsie Quarterman, and Erich Steiner.
A Botanical Education Program
(Continued from page I)
The NSF institutes and conferences and the visiting scientists program operated by the AIBS on a grant from NSF provide other media through which botanists can re-view the current status of their specialties for biology teachers and students at both the high school and college levels.
Among the projects that the Botanical Society might well consider are the following:
(a) The production and free distribution to biology teachers in both high schools and colleges of a series of instructional leaflets designed to aid in the teaching of botany. These would be similar to the leaflets being prepared by the newly-organized Committee on Education of the Society of American Bacteriologists, and would probably include bibliographies, selected film lists, new or improved experiments and demonstrations, sources of free or inexpensive materials and of hard to find items, suggestions for preparing tests, and suggestions as to the selection of botanical subject mat-ter for biology courses. A relatively small grant should cover the cost of preparing, publishing and distributing the leaflets, though to be most useful the project should be a continuing one.
2. Botanical Education of the General Public.
That the general public is interested in plants and in learning more about them is indicated by various types of evidence such as the popularity of the programs of botanical gardens, the frequent questions directed toward botany professors, and the fact that Who Knows and What lists far more specialists in the plant sciences than in any other discipline. There are, however, many comon misconceptions of the true nature of modern botany. Though similar situations exist in regard to the other sciences it seems likely that botany has fared worse than most of them. We botanists are largely to blame for this situation, for our lines of communication with the general public have been quite meager. (See D. C. Peattie, Amer. Jour. Bot. 43: 520-525, 1959.)
The Scientific American has, of course, published a number of botanical articles characteristic of the nature and scope of modern botany and Natural History is now making an effort to improve its offerings along botanical lines, but there is a need for more articles about plants in publications such as these and more particularly in magazines of wider circulation such as Science Digest, Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, and Life. Magazines such as Harpers and the Atlantic have occasionally published botanical articles and probably would publish more if provided with quality manuscripts. Such publications might also be receptive to well-written articles on the nature and role of modern bot-
any and biographical sketches of famous botanists. One or two profile sketches of botanists in the New Yorker should not be out of the question.
The need for more good popular books on plants and botany is even greater than the need for more magazine articles, because most of the books now available are either manuals or garden books. Any capable botanist with a flair for popular writing can serve his science well by contributing magazine articles and books directed toward the lay-man, and in addition he can expect some degree of financial reward. Other channels of communication with the public include radio, TV, public lectures, cooperation with re-porters and news services wanting stories on research developments, and perhaps even syndicated newspaper columns. Cooperation in these ways as the opportunities pre-sent themselves can help considerably in bridging the gap between botanists and the public, increasing the layman's understanding of plants and botany, and providing a more favorable climate for our science.
The Botanical Society of America might profitably con-tribute toward the botanical education of the general public by arranging for a high level conference of leading botanists and newspaper science editors and writers, magazine editors, free-lance science writers, and perhaps editors of trade publishing houses, publishers of paperback books, and radio and TV executives. Such a conference might last a week or two and would perhaps best be held in or near New York in cooperation with a major university. On the one hand, the botanists could discuss the nature of modern botany, recent research developments in their specialties, and the desired types of communication with the public. On the other, the journalists could present the problems they face and outline the types of materials they need and could use. Just one of the many specific problems that might be considered would be the common practice of mis-identifying botanists as chemists, agricultural experts, or other types of scientists when items about their research appear in the press. 3. The Status of Botany in Colleges and Universities.
The results of a survey on the Status of Botany in American Colleges and Universities were reported to the Society in 1952 by a special committee. The Society has also sponsored a National Science Foundation supported Conference on the Role of Botany in American Education (Plant Science Bulletin 4(3) : 1-3, May 1958). The problems studied by these groups need to be reconsidered occasionally in order to obtain up-to-date information on how the role and status of botany may be changing, and how we may effectively advance botanical education.
Among the problems that need continuing study are the botanical content of general biology courses and curricula; the role and status of botany and botanists in biology departments and in botany departments; and the institutions where there has been a tendency to give little or no emphasis to botany.
To the extent that efforts to de-emphasize botany or the lack of interest in adding it to the curriculum result from a lack of understanding of the nature and significance of botany by administrators and our colleagues in other disciplines, articles on the nature and role of botany in journals such as the AAUP Bulletin, the Journal of Higher Education and School and Society might be quite helpful. It is, of course, well known that a very effective means of securing increased support and recognition for botany is the offering of sound, interesting, up-to-date, well taught courses in bottany. Any improvements along these lines should be shared with colleagues for the improvement of the status of our science and for the benefit of our students.
The current emphasis on improving education and the impending expansion of our colleges and universities re-quire that we give increased attention to the problems affecting botany and botanists in our institutions. It is clearly our professional responsibility to try to see that botany and botanists play their appropriate roles in this period of great change in American education.
Have Modern Botanists Forgotten the (Herbarium?
DAVID B. DUNN
University of Missouri
Sometimes the herbarium tends to be neglected and its value not appreciated. Just as a library represents the history of man's progress and his recorded thoughts on various subjects, so the herbarium is a record of the recent history of the vegetation of the world. While most herbaria have specialized in a local area, they usually have sufficient general world collections to be of great value in teaching botany, especially in the areas of ecology, economic botany, plant geography, phylogeny and taxonomy.
Ef}ects of Man's Progress. In North America in the short time since the landing of the Pilgrims the population has increased greatly and man has steadily migrated across the continent. His livestock and his plows and other machinery have so altered the vegetation that in some states, such as those in the corn and wheat belts, only scattered fragments of the native flora exist today. Some of these relics are along river banks, steep bluffs, roadsides, woodlots, railroad rightsof-way, and some abandoned cemeteries. Where state herbaria were established relatively early, a record of much of the early vegetation may be preserved. The early explorers collected extensively, depositing specimens in the U. S. National Herbarium, Philadelphia Academy of Science, at the Gray Herbarium, or at the Missouri Botanical Garden. In many cases these herbaria have the only specimens which prove a certain geographic area was once within the range of distribution of a particular species.
The current pressure of urbanization and its consequent demands for more lumber have many effects on vegetation. Streets and houses eradicate every vestige of native vegetation in one area, while the lumberman cuts away the forest in another area. Man's need for more water has resulted in extensive conservation projects on water resources with dams that cause inundating of extensive areas, also eradicating the vegetation. Local botanists have sometimes made collections in advance of the flooding of an area and preserved her-barium material as a record for future use, but this practice has not occurred often enough. In this sense herbaria will become increasingly important in the future since they will, in many cases, have the only historical records available.
Pharmaceutical Material. While the herbarium cannot supply quantities of plant material for extraction of drugs, it can and does act as a reference so that persons collecting plant material for drugs can accurately identify the plants. Identification of plants for people who hope they have a drug plant is quite common for most curators of herbaria. It may be observed that many of the plants which are unpalatable to livestock and considered as noxious weeds are not eaten because of a bitter taste due to alkaloids or glucosides which may become valuable at some future date. Pharmaceutical houses are sponsoring plant collectors in various parts of the world currently.
Voucher Specimens. As botanists we profess to be plant scientists. Scientific work requires precision. The variations in the responses of biological materials constitute a rather large variable and render the work often more subjective than we would like to believe it is. It is a basic tenet that species of plants are morphologically, genetically and physiologically distinct entities, which will respond differently to a given environment. Yet, how many botanists can say they have been sufficiently scientific to have left a voucher specimen in an herbarium to verify the species on which they did their experimental work. It was not until 1935 that the plant taxonomists of the world finally accepted the requirement of citing a type specimen (which is a voucher) at the time a new species is described. This simply recognizes the fact that words alone are not always adequate to verify the entity in nature which the author intended to describe. It has only been within the last 15 years that biosystematists have recognized the necessity of citing an herbarium voucher specimen for the plants on which they were publishing chromosome counts. A few anatomists and a few physiologists have in recent years cited herbarium voucher specimens, recognizing that a portion of the actual plant on which they did their work was itself the best identification available. The space involved in a publication is no more than that of the word "publication," example (UMO-42,179) giving the official international designation of the herbarium and the herbarium sheet number. We would not think of not practicing extreme care with chemical experiments or statistical measurements. I am sure most curators of herbaria would be happy to process a voucher sheet and give their fellow botanists a voucher number. The herbarium offers storage of a permanent voucher specimen for important botanical research material.
Palynology. The herbarium is extremely helpful to those studying palynology. Most curators take a dim view of removal of stamens and their pollen from a herbarium sheet since there is quite often only a limted number of flowers. Specimens with abundant flower material can be sampled without spoiling the specimen. A far better practice is that of preserving vials of pollen from a fresh specimen and de-positing a voucher specimen in the herbarium. In the past three years I have made it a general practice, during field work, to preserve a vial of pollen, while collecting, when-ever there were ample flowers present. Over 500 such vials are on file in the herbarium at the University of Missouri and samples are available for exchange in the same manner as herbarium sheets; each sample has a voucher specimen in the herbarium. The pollen samples in the vials are pre-served in glacial acetic acid ready to be prepared by the acetolysis process, described by Erdtman, p. 35 (An Introduction to Pollen Analysis).
Horticultural Plants. It is commonly possible to be able to step outside of the building housing the herbarium and pick up the first conspicuous plant and find that there is no record in the herbarium that the plant grows in the area. Taxonomists have sometimes been referred to as purists be-cause they have often ignored the cultivated plants. Gray's "Manual of Botany" and Munz's "A Flora of California" recognize many plants which have been introduced and which reproduce in the areas covered by these Manuals. I believe that all of the plants which will grow in an area are a part of the flora and deserve recognition. Most of the cultivated plants are simply transplanted species, native to an-other part of the world. The fact that they will survive in their new location gives data on the ecological range of tolerance of the species, which should not be ignored. The fact that taxonomists have practiced partial recognition of plants of an area has been at least partly responsible for the split between horticultural and taxonomic interests. While the collection and preservation of cultivated specimens alone will not solve problems, at least the material would be avail-able for study at various stages of seasonal development by any worker. I believe it is the responsibility of the herbarium to have such voucher specimens for the cultivated material of its area.
Request for Seeds and Twigs
Professor R. D. Gibbs, McGill University, Montreal 2, Quebec, Canada, would be glad to receive seeds and/or freshly cut twigs of the following plants :
Rhoiptelea, Juliania, Ort/aopterygium, Planera, Ampelo-
cera, Engelhardtia, and Garrya (other than G. elliptic-a).
If the specimens are wrapped in pliofilm and marked "Biological Specimens, of no Commercial Value, to be used only for Chemical Analyses" and sent by air they will come quickly through customs. Professor Gibbs will, of course, be glad to refund postage.
College Botany and the High Schools
EDWARD L. DAVIS
It did not take a Sputnick to drive botanists to a soul-searching review of their own botanical teaching program. A number of articles have appeared in this publication over the last few years on the subject, examining the position of botany in the college curriculum and discussing the course content at the elementary level in both the college and high school. It is the effect of the high school program on college students as well as the effect of college training in botany on the high school program that ought to be re-examined. During the last few years we have found the number of botany majors at the University of Massachusetts increasing slightly with good prospects for further increases, while the characteristics of the group are changing considerably. An increasing number of majors, many of them women, are choosing this field with the anticipation of teaching biology in high school. Some of these are students with a desire and ability to go beyond high school teaching into college and university teaching and research, but who approach college without the self assurance to propose such a goal even to themselves. Challenging in the classroom, they offer the satisfaction that comes from training students from whom one may expect obvious and measurable accomplishments in the future. As their sense of accomplishment grows they raise their sights toward advanced degrees. But what of the others? Though personable, intelligent people who will function effectively in high schools, they come to botany for a "watered-down" training. The circumstances demand, and I believe fortunately so, that they take more work in allied fields. Regrettably, much of this is only at an elementary level, but that does not appear as serious as the burden of the education courses which they must carry. As a result of these extra demands the group as a whole frequently appears less rewarding to the botanist. However, they will provide the only contact that many individuals will have with classroom botany, and though we hardly expect physics to be judged by the local physics teacher, their importance in "representing" botany to the general public is very great. Moreover, their influence on students preparing for college is often the deciding factor in directing this group toward or away from subsequent botanical course work. As we are very well aware they also are the ones who begin the training of the students we will eventually face in our elementary college classes. The extent to which we can raise this level of elementary instruction is determined in part by the success of the high school course. We have found, for example, that advanced placement in botany is almost impassible at the University because of the deficiencies in pre-college training in this subject.
At the present time we are studying various ways of approaching this group of prospective teachers. Our ideas have developed along two lines: (I) the introduction of a special senior year course which would integrate work from various areas of botany with emphasis on the role each should play in the high school program, and with discussion of ways of presenting this material and (2) the selection of special advisers for this kind of major, the advisor to supervise the course program and also to discuss problems of high school presentation and help to organize prospective course material. Both of these suggestions admit that the student requires some assistance in preparing material; that the training he receives in botany courses will not prepare him directly for high school teaching. The most capable student may not need this assistance. The observation of the mistakes and successes achieved by his college professors is a great help in preparing for high school teaching, but usually the student able to assimilate these points is the one who leaves the teaching program before graduation. The two proposals are only slightly different: the first introduces a course in techniques into the college program in botany; the second leaves this responsibility to an advisor. So long as the advisor receives credit for this added work the second approach is possible, but it does give him little control over the student, who places such non-credit work last on a long list of responsibilities. Adding one more course in techniques means deleting one more college course. There is an apparent solution. It consists of substituting such training supervised by a botanist for some of the education courses now offered. The professional botanist has a great stake in improving high school teaching of botany; to do this requires an acceptance of the responsibility to super-vise (in some form) the training of such teachers. Insofar as this brings us into conflict with the education course pro-gram, it cannot be done by one department or by one institution. It is going to require a concerted attack on the high school teacher training program by botanists nation-ally, with the aid of other scientists.
There is another aspect of this same problem. The present in-service institutes and summer programs for high school teachers of biology have unquestionably done some excellent things. Yet all too frequently one of their effects has been to produce a feeling of frustration in both students and instructors. These various programs must be integrated with an undergraduate teaching program. To do this effectively we need an intensive re-evaluation of the aims of high school botany. We must in time work out a sound program for the college student training for high school, for whom the post-college refresher training will be a planned step. I would like to suggest a few aims for such a high school school program.
i. High school botany, as a part of biology, must be presented with enough emphasis on recent experimental advances to make the student realize that it is very much an experimental science, and one with an important role in the future. Purely descriptive work, or an essentially horticultural approach, will not direct superior students to this area at the college level.
Our own experience and the example being set in recent years by mathematicians has shown the importance of training teachers for high school. We must get in at the ground floor also, or we will find an ever increasing number of good students being directed away from botanical study be-fore they have had contact with it. Many of the problems in the training program are complex and not easy to solve. But since the botanical training of high school teachers has far reaching effects on the future status of botany, this is an area that urgently requires the widespread attention of botanists.
NEWS AND NOTES
Henry Andrews, Dean of the School of Botany at Washington University, St. Louis, has been granted a Fulbright teaching fellowship for a year at the University of Poona, India. Dr. Andrews will leave late in May for Poona, where he will teach a course in paleobotany and give lectures on other topics. He plans to return the following spring by way of Jimma, Ethiopia, where he will inspect an agricultural research program directed by Hugh Rouk, a graduate student completing requirements for a doctorate degree.
Arthur W. Galston of Yale University has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Australia next year.
A new laboratory for electron microscopy is being developed in the Plant Research Institute, University of Texas, under the leadership of W. Gordon Whaley. The equipment includes an RCA-EMU-2 microscope which is being transferred from the Bureau of Engineering Research and a new RCA-EMU-3 micro-scope together with the necessary basic equipment for the pursuit of electron microscopy in the biological and physical sciences.
At Cornell University, L. F. Randolph has been elected President of the American Iris Society. George Barker, Physiologist of the United Fruit Company formerly stationed in Honduras, is on leave from the Company to work during 1959-6o on the vegetative growth and development of the banana. He will return to the Company at the end of his stay at Cornell. Dr. Edith Robinson, lecturer in Plant Physiology at the University of Leeds, England, is spending this year working with
F. C. Steward on the biochemistry of growth. Dr. Henri Duranton of the Institut National Agronomique in Paris is also working this year with Dr. Steward on problems of nitrogen metabolism.
At the State University of Iowa, the Department of Botany has been awarded a $ro,000 grant from the Atomic Energy Commission to purchase equipment for courses of study introducing the use and measurement of radioisotopes in plants, and life in general. Robert F. Thorne, now in Australia on a Fulbright Fellowship, has recently been awarded a National Science Foundation Senior Post-doctoral Fellowship. George G. Zabka has also been awarded a grant from the National Science foundation for work over a three-year period.
Thomas W. Whitaker, Director of the U. S. Horticultural Field Station, La Jolla, California, is currently on a Guggenheim Fellowship, writing a book on the Cucurbitaceae. He recently spent several months at Davis, California, conferring with co-author Glen Davis, and using library facilities at the University of California. Dr. Whitaker also conferred with scientists at the Missouri 1otanical Garden and other institutions in the Midwest where he presented invitation papers on Cucurbita genetics. Dr. Guy Weston Bohn was Acting Director during Dr. Whitakers' absence.
The University of Tennessee held a series of lectures in December, mainly on aspects of evolution. The speakers were Norman G. Anderson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, C. H. Waddington of Edinburgh, G. Ledyard Stebbins of California, J. N. Spuhler of Michigan, and Th. Dobzhansky of Columbia University.
Irving W. Knobloch has recently transferred from the Department of Natural Sciences to the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Michigan State University.
The Biology Department of Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia has recently acquired a I040-acre natural history reservation. Located in the Flint Hills of east-central Kansas, the F. B. and Rena G. Ross Natural History Reservation consists primarily of bluestem prairie. It is the only known prairie reservation of its kind. Under the direction of C. F. Gladfelter and Emily L. Hartman, the area will serve a threefold purpose in the department's teacher preparation program, in basic re-search, and in the preservation of a natural biotic unit.
An extensive exhibit on the "Ecology of the Redwoods" will be on display at the New York Botanical Garden Museum and Administration Building, January 15-March 15, 196o. The exhibit will include material collected in California, photographs, models and murals of the big trees, as well as many other items related to this theme. The exhibit will illustrate the value and need for preserving not only the redwood trees themselves, but the plants, birds, animals, and other organisms that make up the redwoods environment.
News from the Department of Botany of the University of
John Rowley was appointed as Assistant Professor of Botany in September 1959 to present undergraduate and graduate studies in developmental cytology. His present interest is in the formation and development of the pollen grain wall. He came from the University of Minnesota after a year as a guest, on a National Science Foundation Grant, in Professor A. Frey-Wyssling's department of general botany and Professor Miihlethaler"s electron microscope laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
Professor Robert B. Livingston will be on leave in the spring semester and will spend part of his leave at Duke University on his research on soil moisture studies and will visit the Ecology Section at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.
Robert Wilce, Assistant Professor of Botany, came to the department in September, 1959, after 15 months of extensive research on the taxonomy, morphology and ecology of the arctic marine flora. He brings to the department many years of re-search experience which will be translated into the undergraduate and graduate research studies in phycology. Dr. Wilce attained a complete acquaintance with the literature and the European herbarium material on arctic marine flora in the course of his doctorate studies at the University of Michigan under the direction of Dr. William Randolph Taylor.
D. S. Van Fleet, Head of the Department of Botany at the University of Massachusetts, came to the department in July, 1959, from the Chairmanship of the Department of Botany at the University of Toronto.
DARBAKER PRIZE IN PHYCOLOGY
The Committee on the Darbaker Prize of the Botanical Society of America will accept nominations for an award to be announced at the annual meeting of the Society at Stillwater Oklahoma in 196o. Under the terms of the bequest, the award is to be made for meritorius work in the study of the algae. Persons not members of the Botanical Society are eligible for the award. The Committee will base its judgment primarily on the papers published by the nominee during the last two full calendar years previous to the closing date for nominations. At present, the award will be limited to residents of North America. Only papers published in the English language will be considered. Nominations for the 196o award accompanied by a statement of the merits of the case and by reprints of the publications supporting the candidacy should be sent to the Chairman of the Committee in order to be received by June 1, 196o. The value of the Prize for 196o will depend on the income from the trust fund but is expected to be about $250.00. The Chairman of the Committee is Dr. Richard C. Starr, Department of Botany, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Other members of the Committee are Robert W. Krauss of the University of Maryland, George F. Papenfuss of the University of California at Berkeley, Paul C. Silva of the University of Illinois, and Jack E. Myers of the University of Texas.
WHAT ABOUT VOLVOX?
Professor Greulach's mention of errors in textbooks and the announcement of the Darbaker contest remind us of one of our pet peeves, the classification of Volvox as a protozoan in many biology textbooks. Although the authors of such books frequently explain that typical green plant or holophytic nutrition involves the possession of chlorophyll and carrying on photosynthesis, etc., whereas holozoic or typical animal nutrition involves the ingestion of solid food, etc., they seem to forget this when they come to write the later chapters containing Volvox. They classify Volvox as a protozoan with some statement to the effect that it has "animal-like traits", but they neglect to tell us what these traits are.
We have long tried to find out how this situation came about, and perhaps the best explanation was supplied by a zoologist of our acquaintance. He says that in the days when the recapitulation theory was very fashionable, the zoologists needed a hollow ball organism to represent the blastula stage, i.e., zygote (uncellular) to blastula, to gastrula (Hydra). Having no such animal, they adopted Volvox, and of course, took along Chlamydomonas, Gonium, Pleodorina and their relatives. After this it was easy to appropriate other flagellated algae.
We have made no statistical study, but it seems to us that this type of error occurs more frequently in those texts which strongly claim to be more scientific, more integrated, more homogenized and more "principled" than any other.
We invite our phycological members to come to the defense of the algae, and we promise to try to establish some special prize for the one who can rescue Volvox from the Protozoa.
S. S. G.
FELLOWSHIPS FOR AMERICAN
The American Association of University Women offers a series of fellowships, one at $5000., 4 at $4000., 10 at $3000., and 25 from $2000. to $2500. These are open to women of the U. S. A. who hold the doctorate or who have fulfilled all the requirements for the doctorate, except the dissertation, by the time the fellowship year begins, or who have attained professional recognition. There are no restrictions as to age or field, and the fellowships may be used abroad or in the U. S. A. Application forms may be obtained August 1, 196o. For information about these fellowships and grants offered to women of other countries write to: Fellowships Office, AAUW Education Foundation, 2401 Virginia Avenue, N.W., Washington 7, D. C.
Peter Boysen Jensen of Copenhagen, one of our Corresponding Members, died on November 21, 1959, at the age of nearly i7 years. He was horn on January 18, 1883. He is known internationally for his studies on plant growth sub-stances, photosynthetic production of dry matter, and for his work during later years, and up till a few days before his death, on differentiation and the mode and site of de-position of wall materials in plant cells.
Alexander W. Evans, Eaton Professor Emeritus of Bot• any at Yale University, died on December 6, 1959, at the age of 91. A former chairman of the Botany Department at Yale, he was one of the fifty awarded certificates of merit at the Fiftieth Anniversary Meeting of the Society in 1956. He was cited as "the honored master of hepaticology" and for his contributions to understanding the genus Cladonia.
Which Hat Shall I Wear?
ROBERT W. LONG
Self-identification in our modern, complex society is be-coming an acute problem, according to our colleagues in sociology. Perhaps concern for identity is merely a product of bureaucratic thinking, with its passion for job title and job definition. Several members of the Botanical Society seem to think otherwise, however, for they have shown serious concern about our professional label. The subject is important because it is thought to be partially responsible for botanists' less-than-satisfactory public image and, there-fore, for our seeming lack of broad public support.
Any one of us in the Botanical Society can wear at least five professional name cards: professor or research worker, scientist, biologist, botanist, and morphologist or physiologist or whatever. At various times we are called upon to wear the appropriate card and stand up to he counted. The label we wear when on public exhibition is largely conditioned by the circumstances surrounding that exhibition. The problem of identification resolves itself into one of priority—what label is most appropriate?
A cogent argument for describing ourselves primarily as "biologists" has been advanced by Glass (1957). He says that the first responsibility of each biologist is to be a biologist, a specialist afterwards. An equally compelling argument by Creighton (1957) advocates that we should first of all consider ourselves as "botanists." Steere (1957 con-curs with Glass in preferring the label "biologist," but he is willing to compromise on "plant scientist." Turrill (1959) deplores the use of "biology," pointing out that the term has come to be synonymous with ecology; thus, the "biology of flowering plants." He goes on to suggest that in application zoology is allowed to predominate greatly in the treatment of biology. Stakman (1959) seems to agree with Turrill for, although he frequently refers to biology, he states that biology is almost incapable of precise definition.
This brief review is by no means inclusive, but it is probably representative of opinion on the subject of our professional identity. The disadvantage of the name "botanist" seems to be that it evokes that old stereotype, the vasculumcarrying plant collector busily attaching horrid names to otherwise beautiful flowers. The disadvantage of the name "biologist" seems to be that it signifies too much and too little. It would be appropriate for both biophysicists and butterfly collectors. Moreover, many of us would agree with Turrill that in practice zoological materials far outweigh botanical ones when biology departments or biology courses prevail. At the other extreme, certainly it is too much to expect of the public that they correctly differentiate between phycologist and mycologist, and then to know that both kinds of specialists study plants.
From the strictly pragmatic standpoint, botany seems preferable to biology. Undergraduate biology departments, in many instances, are notorious for the few botany students they produce. Despite logical arguments to the contrary, departmental segregation is evidently the most satisfactory arrangement. The burden of the conveying the scope of botanical work to students and the public at large then rests where it should: on the shoulders of botanists. The old stereotype will die in time as the public learns more about modern botany. It is up to us as members of the Botanical Society to convey to the layman something of the enthusiasm we have for plants. If we succeed, the problem of poor public relations will become considerably less in magnitude.
A second rank priority ought to go to "university professor." Educators frequently discuss the unfortunate results of compartmentalization and specialization in the Nation's colleges. There are several organizations that would welcome our support in helping to solve the problems of mutual concern of all university personnel. Botanists have taken less interest than they ought in such organizations as the American Association of University Professors, and others.
The sequence of priority after these labels is of small importance since the public is frequently not interested in such details. The treasurers of our various special societies will not let us forget our obligations to them. The necessity for using the specialist's label occurs only once or twice a year. Our obligation to botany and our institution continues throughout the year.
Creighton, Harriet, 1957. Botanists of the world, unite—and get going. Plant Science Bull. 3: 1-4.
Glass, Bentley, 1957. The responsibilities of biologists. A.I.B.S. Bull. 7: 9-13.
Stakman, E. C. 1959. The role of plant pathology in the scientific and social development of the world. Plant Pathology, Problems and Progress 1908-1958. Univ. of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
Steere, W. C. 1959. An appraisal of present and future trends in botany. Plant Science Bull. 5: 1-6.
Turrill, W. B. 1959. Preface. Vistas in Botany. Pcrgamon Press, N. Y.
We learn from Professor William L. Stern of Yale that Mrs. Agnes Arber is now in a nursing home and is very glad to hear from her friends and to know that she has not been forgotten. Professor Stern suggests that it would make her days happier if some members of the Botanical Society would write occasional short cheerful letters. He is sure that she would appreciate it and thinks we have an opportunity here to express our thanks to a lady who has contributed much to our science for over 50 years. Her address is: Mrs. Agnes Artier, Hope Nursing Home, Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge, England.