Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Biodiversity Blog


Billie L. Turner Plant Resource Center Awarded Digitization Grant

47495452601 9886cd63b1 o

The National Science Foundation recently awarded the Billie L. Turner Plant Resource Center a new grant for approximately $817,000. The grant extends over four years to complete the digitization of more than 500,000 herbarium specimens collected in the states of Texas and Oklahoma and housed in the herbaria, as well as those of 10 partner institutions.

In addition to digitization, project goals include involving members of plant enthusiast organizations (such as native plant and naturalist societies); contributing to a globally competitive STEM workforce through workshops and lectures for technicians and undergraduate interns;  and developing and implementing innovative strategies to increase the efficiency of the digitization process, among other themes.

In early October, assistant curator, Amber Horning, will be traveling to Gainesville, Florida, for a workshop hosted at the Florida Museum of Natural History by the iDigBio Program. iDigBio is the national hub for the ADBC (Advanced Digitization of Biological Collections) program’s activities and acts as an online aggregator of data and images from all of the natural history collections funded through collaborative grants under this NSF (National Science Foundation) program. Thus far, the iDigBio website hosts more than 122 million total natural history object records, of which more than 48 million represent herbarium specimens. The workshop is designed to allow existing consortia to share their experiences and for new ones to learn from these experiences.

The Center's proposal was part of a collaboration with TORCH (Texas and Oklahoma Regional Consortium of Herbaria) member herbaria. TORCH was founded in 2006 to advocate for and to organize herbaria in the states of Texas and Oklahoma. TORCH provides a forum for communication and collaboration among regional herbaria of all types and sizes; promotes regional data sharing for collections-based research, outreach, and education; and can assist herbaria with infrastructure and management issues.

Last year, the majority of the TORCH member herbaria collaborated on this proposal to the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program (ADBC). The intention was to accomplish the digitization of about 2.2 million specimens distributed among 46 member herbaria and to thus to mobilize data and images of use to researchers, students, citizen scientists, conservationists, land managers, and others for a large variety of projects. The digitization process involves creation of high-resolution digital images of specimens, transcription of information from specimen labels into institutional databases, addition of geographic coordinates where possible, and dissemination of the data through searchable online portals.

The Billie L. Turner Plant Resource Center grant is part of a much larger collaborative grant totaling nearly $4,700,000 and involving 46 herbaria from across the two states and elsewhere. The lead institutions on this grant are the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, UT-Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University. Each of these lead herbaria works with a series of other institutions to accomplish the overall project.

The Trees of BFL: Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)
Insects and Art

Related Posts


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment