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Myco-Consortium talk March 2: Donald Pfister

As part of the MST's membership in the Myco-Consortium series of Zoom talks, MST members are invited to join the presentation on Thursday, March 2nd at 7pm ET:

The Uses of Herbaria/Fungaria

A talk by Donald Pfister
Thursday March 2nd, 7pm ET

Using examples from research that has been done on specimens from the Farlow fungarium I will outline how these specimens contribute to modern taxonomic and systematic studies and how curatorial practices contribute to or distract from accurate study of collections. How was it possible to determine that a species suspected to be extinct was found to be widespread in eastern North America? What can collections tell us about the high and unexpected diversity of species of an often-collected genus of tropical fungi? Where was Charles Wright when he collected Puccinia triarticulata and how did he get there? These and other questions will be examined through the eye of a long serving curator.

About Donald Pfister

Donald Pfister has been at Harvard University and the Farlow Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany since 1974, after having been at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez from 1971. His Ph.D. was from Cornell University where he worked with Richard P. Korf. Aside from various administrative roles, his activities at the Farlow have centered on teaching and research, mostly on Ascomycota (Pezizomycetes, Leotiomycetes and Laboulbeniomyces), and stewardship of the Farlow collections. Over his career he has not only been responsible for the Farlow collections, but he also served as director of the entire Harvard University Herbaria, which numbers nearly 6 million specimens. The Farlow collections, which include not only fungi and lichenized fungi but also algae and bryophytes, include about 1.5 million specimens. As research collections these are priceless; they represent examples from every continent and some date from the late 18 th Century. The stewardship of collections has led to an ongoing interest in exploration, expeditions and the people who participated in them. He has written several books and articles dealing with collections. These include: Annotated index to fungi described by N. Patouillard; Cryptogams of the United States North Pacific Exploring Expedition, 1853-1856: Unpublished manuscripts; A bibliographic account of exsiccatae containing fungi; A bibliography of taxonomic mycological literature 1753-1821 and several shorter articles that deal with collections and their accessibility to the research community. In all of these he has melded his research on fungi with the history and documentation of collections.

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