The SUNY Virtual Herbarium: Increasing Access and Improving Botanical Education
- Michael B. Burgess, SUNY Plattsburgh
- Laurie J. Freeman, Fulton-Montgomery Community College
- Jack T. Tessier, SUNY Delhi
- Kathy Spitzhoff, SUNY Oneonta
Herbaria, collections of preserved plants, are valuable sources of data essential to studies in the biological sciences. The primary goal of this project is to increase access to herbarium collections at SUNY institutions, as well as to develop and disseminate a new pedagogy for enhancing botanical education using digitized specimens. Herbaria collections at SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Plattsburgh will be databased, imaged, and made accessible via an open-access data portal. Herbarium data will then be used to develop three web-based learning modules designed to engage students, develop skills in scientific inquiry, and enhance botanically focused courses. These modules will be implemented and evaluated in a variety of learning environments from introductory biology courses to upper level botany classes at three different types of SUNY institutions. In addition, this project relies heavily on student interns in both biology and art in order to promote a unique type of collaborative, interdisciplinary learning.