A Changing of the Guard in the E.C. Smith Herbarium

by Kristie, David

Hidden away on the lower floor of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre is one of crown jewels of the Irving Biodiversity Collection, the E.C. Smith Herbarium. The Herbarium was established in 1910, and is the largest in Atlantic Canada with over 200,000 specimens of vascular plants, mosses, lichens and fungi. The Herbarium houses the most extensive collection of Atlantic Provinces flora found anywhere, and is used both as a teaching resource at Acadia, and a research resource by researchers from around the world.

We are extremely pleased to welcome Alain Belliveau to Acadia as the new Collections Manager (curator) of the Herbarium. Alain comes to Acadia after gaining years of botanical fieldwork experience with the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute in southern Nova Scotia, and the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre. Alain is also a talented natural history writer and his occasional articles have appeared in the Chronicle Herald (eg link). As Collections Manager Alain will be responsible for maintaining and expanding the collection, as well as providing expertise in plant identification to researchers, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and the public.

We should also note that the herbarium owes a deep debt of gratitude to our previous curator, Ruth Newell, who retired over a year ago.  Since then Ruth has been a regular volunteer in the Herbarium, working to keep the paperwork under control, and identifying and processing new plant specimens as they arrive in the Herbarium. We should also thank Jean Timpa, a retired teacher and volunteer, who has helped process herbarium specimens, and Steve MacNeil another retired volunteer who has maintained the digital database. Thank you Ruth, Jean, and Steve.

There has also been turnover of leadership in the Herbarium. Dr Rodger Evans has been Director of the Herbarium since 2001. Together with library staff Jennifer Richard, and Steve MacNeil, Dr Evans was instrumental in helping the Herbarium become the first in Canada, and one of the first in the world, to create a digital database with scanned images of its collection. This digital database is shared globally via the Canadensys, a consortium of Canadian universities, museums and botanical gardens. As Dr Evans will be assuming the role of Department Head in Biology, he is handing over the role of Director of the Herbarium to Dr Allison Walker, a mycologist/botanist in the Biology Department. Dr Walker has already begun a fungal DNA barcoding initiative of the Herbarium's fungal specimens, and has shared them globally on Mycoportal.  Thank you Dr Evans for your work, and welcome Dr Walker.



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