Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is pleased to welcome visiting sabbatical professors Carolyn Ferguson and Mark Mayfield, both from Kansas State University and Carlos García-Verdugo de Lucas, Fulbright postdoctoral researcher for the spring of 2011.
Carolyn Ferguson, associate professor of biology at Kansas State University and curator of the KSU Herbarium, studies Phlox, a genus of about 70 species of plants found mostly in North America.
Taking a break from courses such as Advanced Plant Systematics and Taxonomy of Flowering Plants at Kansas State, means Ferguson can work strictly on research throughout the semester. With a focus on plant systematics, Ferguson is currently examining the diversification of the genus Phlox, and is particularly interested in patterns of polyploidy (a process of genome doubling). The habitats of these plant species vary from alpine tundra to Midwestern prairies to the foothills of Southern California.
In addition to spending time examining what the vaults of the RSA Herbarium hold Ferguson will be making several trips into the field later this spring.
Her husband, Mark H. Mayfield, research assistant professor of biology at Kansas State University, joins Ferguson part time this spring.
Mayfield is the plant identification specialist and database administrator at the Kansas State University Herbarium. He helps people across the state identify plants, many of which are submitted online or through email. The herbarium has mostly been databased and a specimen imaging project and web portal developments are currently underway.
Although not officially on sabbatical—he continues to provide support for the university’s herbarium with digital network access and through email on a daily basis—Mayfield is taking the opportunity to work on his research on the taxonomy of Euphorbia of the Western Hemisphere. Bringing several of his own samples, he also quickly scoured the herbarium at RSABG for Mexican Euphorbia and is anticipating the opportunity to do some field collections during their stay in California.
Ferguson and Mayfield are also joined by their two daughters (ages 9 and 7) and are enjoying their home away from home in the Claremont Village.
Carlos García-Verdugo de Lucas, a Fulbright postdoctoral researcher, who has come from Spain to work with RSABG’s botanical community to further his research on island biogeography and plant evolution.
García-Verdugo de Lucas received his doctoral degree from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. His dissertation research focused on populations of wild native olives (Olea europaea subsp. guanchica) that occur on the Canary Islands. Oceanic archipelagos can be viewed as natural laboratories for the study of evolutionary processes. Using molecular methods, García-Verdugo de Lucas’ placed genetic variation among plant populations in the context of what is known about the geological history of the islands.
García-Verdugo de Lucas’s Fulbright postdoc advances his work on island biogeography and plant evolution. He is considering several projects from work on the Hawaiian genus Dubautia to work on some of the plants that occur on our own Channel Islands.