In the early spring of 2006 an REU was applied for to supplement the University of Washington Herbarium’s NSF grant supporting the databasing of the northwest portion of the collection in order to make the information both more accessible and usable to the public and researchers outside the Pacific Northwest. The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports the activities of an undergraduate within the area of research being funded by the NSF grant. Jessica Ni was offered and accepted this educational experience.
Through the REU she gained valuable experience in using Filemaker software while assisting in databasing the Pacific Northwest Collections. She now has a much greater working knowledge of what goes on in the microcosm a Herbarium. Contributing to this knowledge were excursions to Lewis County to collect county vouchers, Kittitas County focused on aquatics, and Saddlebag Island as part of the Herbarium’s survey of the flora of the San Juan Islands.
Jessica followed the 67 collections made in Lewis County through the entire process of becoming a herbarium sheet from collection, to drying and then freezing the pressed plants in order to kill anything damaging living on or with them, identifying, entering them into the database, creating labels, mounting, accessioning, and finally culminating with their being added to the collection. A very time consuming process!
The REU involved multiple projects including identifying parts of the Ingram Collection, doing library research associated with the type collection which included locating and copying protologues (~350) which are being used to verify the type specimens, helping to compile an updated county level flora for Washington, georeferencing 800 of the San Juan Island localities for use in an online atlas of the flora of the San Juan Islands, and researching some of the history of the herbarium--as well as other tasks supporting herbarium activities. The entire experience driving home the importance not only of having records, but what sorts of records would be the most useful and usable for the future.