Upper Iowa University (UIU) Professor of Science and Robert L. Fox Endowed Chair of Science Scott Figdore will present “A Preliminary Botanical Inventory of Fayette County” Thursday, March 23, at UIU’s Fayette Campus. The free public program will begin at 1 p.m. in the Baker-Hebron science building auditorium.
As part of the program, Figdore will provide an historic overview of herbarium specimen collection efforts at Upper Iowa over the past 160 years. He also will discuss recent efforts to update and repair the herbarium collections housed in the C. C. Parker Herbarium of Upper Iowa University for both archival and educational purposes.
“The presentation will focus on the importance of documenting current plant species diversity at the county-level,” Figdore said. “I will also share preliminary information from our efforts over the past 20 years to create a plant inventory and herbarium collection from some of Fayette County’s beautiful natural areas.”
The Upper Iowa University Herbarium was renamed to honor Dr. Charles Coleman (C. C.) Parker, UIU’s first professor of natural sciences and Fayette’s first town doctor, who also served in the 12th Iowa Infantry Regiment (University Recruits) during the Civil War as a regimental surgeon. Parker collected nearly 500 herbarium specimens in the 1860’s and 1870’s, including several rare specimens no longer typically found in the region.
Thanks to a generous gift from Dr. James D. Parker, the great-grandson of C. C. Parker, Figdore has been working on restoring the historical herbarium collections of C.C. Parker and others, as well as on creating a more recent herbarium collection, so that the C. C. Parker Herbarium can be recognized and utilized for its archival and historical significance by the scientific community.
With over 30 years of service at UIU, Figdore served as the inaugural dean of the School of Science and Mathematics for four years before returning to fulltime faculty duties. The Robert L. Fox Endowed Chair of Science was initiated by a generous gift from members of the Parker, Fox and Goebel families. The first recipient of the Robert L. Fox Endowed Chair was the late Professor Emeritus Lew Churbuck. At the time of his honor, Churbuck was the curator of the Upper Iowa University Herbarium. Figdore assumed the duties of the curator position after professor Churbuck’s retirement in 2007.