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ULM museum receives federal grant

Published September 26, 2014

Scientists may soon have a renewed understanding of how plants grow and spread, thanks in part to a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Museum of Natural History, housed on the ULM campus.

The new NSF grant totals $83,000 over four years and is part of a $2.5 million NSF effort to catalogue and unite 233 herbaria—a collection of preserved plant specimens— in the southeastern United States.

This grant marks a continued relationship between the NSF and ULM Museum of Natural History herbarium. Previously, the herbarium received a $500,000 grant that funded completely digitizing the museum’s collection.

The four-year grant will allow ULM scientists to catalog and distribute geographically tagged identifiers for plants stored in the ULM Herbarium, according to Herbarium curator Thomas Sasek.


“For our specimens, the grant will allow us to extract further information by geo-referencing the locations where plants were collected, and provide modern map coordinates,” Sasek said. “This will result in the ability to map distributions and determine, for example, the spread of introduced species or the decline of rare and endangered species.”

Sasek said the museum’s success with that process has opened the door to the ULM Museum of Natural History to guide other herbaria that are just beginning to digitize their specimens.

“ULM has already digitized its herbarium specimens, and we will provide advice to the other southeastern states that are starting out,” Sasek said.

The museum is located on the first floor or Hanna Hall on University Avenue.

For more information about the ULM Museum of Natural History, contact Sasek at sasek@ulm.edu