Plant Talk

Six NYBG Curators Set to Retire but Will Continue Their Work as Curators Emeriti

Posted in Garden News on August 19, 2020, by Lawrence Kelly

Lawrence M. Kelly, Ph.D., is Vice President of Science Administration and Susan E. Lynch Director of Graduate Studies at The New York Botanical Garden.

With an average 32 years of service, six curators in The New York Botanical Garden’s Plant Research and Conservation program and the LuEsther T. Mertz Library are stepping down from their staff positions but will continue their Botanical Garden-based projects and research as Curators Emeriti.

As staff longevity is a characteristic upon which the Garden has long prided itself, NYBG wanted to give longtime employees the opportunity to take advantage of an outmoded retirement benefit known as Terminal Leave before it permanently expires on September 1, 2020. Therefore, the Garden offered a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program to those who were eligible, and 16 staff members accepted.

Eight are from the division of Plant Research and Conservation and the Mertz Library, of whom six hold curatorial positions:

  • Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., Vice President for Conservation Strategy, Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany & Director of NYBG Press (36 years of service)
  • Susan Fraser, Thomas J. Hubbard Vice President and Director of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library (nearly 37 years of service)
  • Andrew Henderson, Ph.D., Curator of Palms (over 33 years of service)
  • Robbin Moran, Ph.D., Nathaniel Lord Britton Curator of Botany (nearly 23 years of service)
  • Dennis W. Stevenson, Ph.D., Vice President for Science and Cullman Senior Curator (over 33 years of service)
  • William Wayt Thomas, Ph.D., The Elizabeth G. Britton Curator of Botany (over 37 years of service)

These professionals, who have been leaders in their fields, will have emeritus status, maintain offices at NYBG, and continue their research projects in the coming years. NYBG thanks them for their many decades of service and the important roles they have played in making NYBG one of the great plant research institutions of the world.

These retirements do not mean the positions have been permanently eliminated. NYBG expects them to be filled in time, likely after the pandemic has subsided. Meanwhile, the search for a new Dean of the International Plant Science Center & Chief Science Officer continues to progress. Ultimately, the Dean will have the opportunity to put in place the next generation of NYBG scientists.

From its earliest days, NYBG has been driven by a mission to conduct basic and applied research on the plants of the world with the goal of protecting and preserving them. Currently, nearly 100 Ph.D.-level scientists, including full-time staff, curators emeriti, and adjunct scientists, are engaged in 250 international collaborations in 49 countries. NYBG is one of the top two freestanding botanical gardens where plant and fungal research is conducted, thanks to the unparalleled resources of the Plant Research Laboratory, the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, and the Mertz Library. The largest in the Western Hemisphere, the Steere Herbarium houses 7.8 million preserved specimens, representing all groups of plants and fungi, with particular strength in the flora of the Americas.

Watch for profiles of the retiring curators on Plant Talk in upcoming weeks.

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