My life as a plant collector

In my last year at Bowdoin, I won a Thomas J Watson Fellowship to collect botanical specimens in the High Andes, fulfilling a life long dream to travel to the lands of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Hundred Years of Solitude. My plant collections are held at the New York Botanical Garden and according with botanical tradition, are distributed at Kew Gardens, the Missouri Botanical Garden and many other institutions worldwide. During that year I made many noted lifelong friends, including Fernando Ortiz-Crespo, with whom I published my first paper, on hummingbird pollination, and Douglas Daly, whom I literally met on Machu Picchu in a “Dr. Livingstone I presume” moment. Daly was traveling with a senior botanist, Alwyn Gentry, tragically killed in a small plane crash in the Andes years later (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alwyn_Howard_Gentry). I collected over 3000 distinct specimens in my plant collecting career. Among these, I collected several new species, including Sphyrospermum boekei Luteyn, Ceratostema megabracteatum Luteyn (both Ericaceae), Ossea boekei Wurdack (Melastomaceae), Duranta boekei Moldenke (Verbenaceae), Anthurium boekei Croat (Araceae), Ageratina boekei R.M. King & H. Rob. DD (Compositae), Peperomia boekei Callejas (Piperaceae), Epidendrum boekei Hágsater and Crossoglossa boekeana Ormerod (both Orchidaceae).
It was an amazing experience!

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