Habenaria leucophaea (Nutt.) Gray Trientalis borealis Raf. Hydrophyllum apendiculatum Michx. Neptunia lutea (Leavenw.) Benth.


In botany education, the effect of a mentor on a student’s life-time achievement is often difficult to measure.  We look for metrics that describe recent performances of students to determine whether their education played a role in their choice of career and their subsequent success.  Rarely, do we have the opportunity to examine the lives of actual students relative to their exposure to botany at a formative age.

We present five former students from the Department of Biological Sciences that link their achievements in botany directly to their mentors.  One mentor, Frank U. G. Agrelius, who collected the first specimens for our herbarium, is described in terms of personal experience by his student, Jack L. Carter.  Dr. James S. Wilson, who then expanded the collection and established the herbarium in its present location, inspired the other four students.  Dr. Wilson taught his students rigorously, trained them in field techniques, and launched them into lives of accomplishment in academic botany.  Dr. Wilson, a classically trained botanist himself, collected plants throughout North America with his students.  Their work and the work of Mr. Agrelius and his students became the foundation for our herbarium which today houses over 40,000 plant specimens.  In retrospect, here are the lives of former students and the contributions they made to botany.

Ratibida logo adapted from Helen Sharp watercolor, from the Rare Book Collection of the Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Photos by [left to right] Greg Sievert

Bio's of the distinguished botanists:

Dr. Ralph E. Brooks

Dr. Jack L. Carter

Dr. Melinda F. Denton

Dr. Robert I. Lonard

Dr. Lawrence K. Magrath