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Dr. Wendy Zomlefer — 2020 Bartholomew Award Recipient

Wendy Zomlefer 2020 Bartholomew Award

The Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award represents the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society’s highest recognition bestowed upon an individual. It honors the memory of its namesake’s untiring service to the public, to plant systematics, and to the Society. It is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in professional and public service that advances our knowledge and appreciation of plants and their scientific, cultural, and aesthetic values, and/or exceptional service to the society. The quality of the nominees and difficulty of arriving at a decision is a testament to the members of our society!

We congratulate Dr. Wendy B. Zomlefer on being selected the 2020 recipient of the Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award.

Wendy has excelled in each of the areas mentioned above and has been actively involved with SABS for many years, serving as Council Member-at-Large (2009-2011), Chair of the Student Presentation Awards Committee (2010-2011), President-Elect (2011-2012), President (2012-2014), and Past President (2014-2015). Additionally, she has reviewed a dozen manuscripts for Castanea over the past 15 years!

The letters of support received by the Committee for her nomination consistently praised her efforts in education, scholarship, and service.

The Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award Committee is proud to have this opportunity to recognize Dr. Zomlefer for her service to our profession, our field, her students, the public, and our Society. She thoroughly deserved this recognition and the members of the Bartholomew Committee felt that no person could do a better job of describing the monumental impact that Dr. Zomlefer has had in her field than Dr. Richard Carter did in his letter of nomination.

Dr. Conley K. McMullen

Chair, Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award Committee

Excerpts from Dr. Richard Carter's Nomination Letter

Wendy retired from her teaching and curatorial duties at University of Georgia at the end of fall semester 2019. Her dedicated service in these roles will certainly be missed by many colleagues and botanical friends in Georgia and throughout the region. I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive the Bartholomew Award than Wendy Zomlefer.

Her service to the state and region through her role as Curator of the Herbarium is inspirational and seems to parallel that of Betty Bartholomew. During Wendy’s tenure as Curator, the University of Georgia Herbarium (GA) grew by 60,000 specimens, many of these vouchers for field work done by her and her students. She secured funding for and supervised the digitization of GA, with specimen images and data now being served on-line, and she secured funding for substantial infrastructural improvements to secure GA well into the future.

Her teaching in the classroom, through her richly illustrated and widely used Guide to Flowering Plant Families, and through substantial outreach within the state and region is exemplary. Her research and that of her students has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the flora of Georgia, and her dedicated service to SABS and the community of herbarium curators in the state and region has been inspiring.

For many years Wendy, as Professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Curator of the Herbarium at University of Georgia, has taught plant taxonomy, as well as courses in botanical illustration, natural history museum curatorship, independent research, and freshman seminar in Plant Biology.  She has mentored graduate students in conducting floristic inventories of significant natural prairies in Georgia, e.g., blackland prairie, piedmont glades, and she has provided hands-on training for the next generation of curators to numerous students through internships.
She has conducted substantial outreach bringing her research in floristic and collection-based botany before the general public, outreach to the regional scientific community through a NSF-sponsored workshop on best practices in herbarium specimen curation.  She has presented numerous public lectures on her research in systematics of lilies, flora of Georgia, botanical illustrations, and the importance of biodiversity collections to diverse and broad audiences.

Wendy is author and illustrator of a very popular and widely used Guide to Flowering Plant Families that has been a mainstay in introductory plant taxonomy courses. She has contributed to numerous popular guides: various National Audubon Society field guides, including those to Florida, New England, the Pacific Northwest, California, the Rocky Mountain states, the mid-Atlantic states, and the southeastern states, as well as The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration.

Wendy has served as curator of the University of Georgia Herbarium (GA) for 19 years. As curator, she secured numerous grants that enabled major infrastructural enhancement of the herbarium (high-density storage system), digitization of the herbarium, and voucher-based field research that added thousands of specimens to the collection. Through her tireless efforts, she grew the herbarium by more than 60,000 specimens during this period, trained numerous students in herbarium-based research and curation, and was responsible for infrastructural improvements that secured the collection for the foreseeable future and made it a model for the state and region. She was also selfless in promoting the stature and advancement of smaller collections in Georgia, through her leadership in collaborative research efforts funded by the National Science Foundation.
Wendy has made significant contributions through her research in phylogenetics of petaloid monocots, particularly Melanthiaceae (Liliales) and flora of the southeastern United States (especially endemic and rare plants), including voucher-based vegetation survey work of natural areas in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, with particular emphasis on Georgia. The results of this research have been disseminated through numerous publications.
Wendy has served the American Society of Plant Taxonomists as a member of various committees and as Associate Editor of Systematic Botany (2002-2006). Wendy has served as Taxonomic Editor for the Flora of North America (Vol. 26, Liliales and Orchidales). She has been an active member of numerous other professional societies devoted to the advancement of botany and herbaria, and she has played a crucial leadership role in organizing and nurturing the Georgia Herbarium Alliance, revitalizing interest in Georgia’s herbaria.