Ph.D.: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986
My main research interests are ferns. I study ferns primarily in the American tropics, especially Central America and the Andes. Much of my research has involved writing floras and monographs, which assemble information about ferns of a given region and provide a means to identify them. I was the main writer, editor, and organizer for the pteridophyte volume of Flora Mesoamericana, a book that covers the pteridophytes from southern Mexico to Panama. This book is the largest fern flora ever written (it treats the nearly 1400 species). I am currently collaborating with Garden researchers John Mickel and Timothy Motley on a study of Elaphoglossum, one of the world's largest fern genera. Last fall (2002) we received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help fund this research.
Besides research, I teach. For example, I co-organize a six-week-long course, Tropical Plant Systematics, in Costa Rica for the Organization of Tropical Studies. The course is taught one year in English and the next year in Spanish. From time to time I also teach (in Spanish) short, two- to three-week-long pteridology courses in Latin America. Every three or four years I teach a full-semester, graduate-level course in the study of ferns at The New York Botanical Garden.
I also interpret ferns to the public. I am the Program Chairman of the New York Chapter of the American Fern Society, which meets the first Saturday of every month at the Garden. Finally, I serve as Associate Editor on the Garden's taxonomic journal, Brittonia, and one of the main scientific journals in my field of expertise, the American Fern Journal.
Our curator painting, representing the interests of John Mickel and myself, depicts the rich diversity of ferns in a Costa Rican cloud forest. Ferns shown are Asplenium serratum L. (bird's-nest fern), Cyathea sp. (tree fern), Elaphoglossum costaricense H. Christ (Paddle fern), E. decoratum (Kunze) T. Moore (dissected paddle fern), E. peltatum (Sw.) Urb. (potato fern), Huperzia pithyoides (Schlecht. & Cham.) Holub (clubmoss), H. dichaeoides (Maxon) Holub (clubmoss), Microgramma brunei (H. Christ) Lellinger (potato fern), Polypodium loriceum L. (polypody), Vittaria stipitata Kunze (shoestring fern).