The Brown University Herbarium was founded in 1869 when the university acquired the collections of the Providence Franklin Society and Stephen Thayer Olney. Their combined collections included around 100,000 plant specimens gathered by various expeditions and collectors of the era, as well as a survey of Rhode Island flora from the middle of the 19th century. Tim Whitfeld, Collections Manager at the Herbarium, discusses the institution’s founding botanists (many of whom were Athenæum members) and the history of this fascinating depository of Rhode Island and New England collections.
Tim Whitfeld has spent his career as a botanist interested in documenting patterns of plant diversity and investigating mechanisms driving plant species coexistence in tropical and temperate ecosystems. He earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota and joined the faculty at Brown University in 2013 as Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He is currently the Collections Manager of the Brown University Herbarium.