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Kass, Lee B.

Cornell Faculty Member
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I received my doctoral training in plant anatomy, plant physiology and genetics at Cornell University. During six years of postdoctoral and research appointments, I concurrently taught classes part-time in my chosen fields. I then entered full-time teaching (24 credit hours per year) at Elmira College and conducted research with students during summers as an adjunct professor at the L.H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University. I established the Elmira College Herbarium in 1984, founded on the historical plant collections of T. F. Lucy. During my first sabbatical at the L. H. Bailey Hortorium in 1990, I completed the first edition of my Field Guide to the Common Plants of San Salvador Island which was published in 1991, and subsequently has been revised and updated (2005, 2009). While a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor at the College of the Bahamas in 1996, I facilitated the establishment of the Bahamas National Herbarium (BNH), of which I am currently an associated staff member. I have also been Visiting Professor at the herbaria of Michigan State University, and Cornell University. In summer 2000, I retired from full-time teaching. Currently, I am Visiting Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Cornell, where I focus my efforts on publishing scientific papers and writing an intellectual biography of Barbara McClintock (Cornellian and Nobel Laureate). I also continue consulting and investigating the biodiversity and reproductive biology of Bahamian Plants. I am a resource person for investigators on the Bahama Flora and historians working in the field of botany and genetics. I collaborated with Professor R. P. Murphy of the Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics to write a Centennial history of their department (Murphy & Kass, 2007, 2011). Also, I have guided Elmira College Honors and Research students in updating names for the T. F. Lucy Herbarium collection, which is currently housed at Cornell (Graver et al. 2005), and now we are working on a project curating Lucy’s specimens for the Buffalo Museum of Science (Tilden et al. 2008). Upon completing my current projects, I plan to continue my work in the Bahamas, and pursue research for a biography of L. H. Bailey.

Research Areas research areas

research overview

  • I focus my efforts on publishing scientific papers and writing an intellectual biography of Barbara McClintock (Cornellian and Nobel Laureate) (Kass 2013, Kass & Chomet 2009, Kass & Gale 2008, Kass & Cobb 2007, Kass 2006, Kass et al. 2005, Coe & Kass 2005, Kass 2005b, Kass & Bonneuil 2004). One book has been published (Kass 2013), a companion volume with an analysis for each of McClintock's publications, and one is in preparation: an intellectual biography of McClintock. I also conduct investigations on the biodiversity and reproductive biology of Bahamian Plants (Landry et al 2014, Kass et al. 2011, Landry et al. 2009, Kass et al. 2007, Slusher et al. 2007, Kass 2005a; see also Conference Proceedings). An updated and expanded third edition of my field guide to the Common Plants of San Salvador Island, Bahamas has been published (Kass 2009). A co-authored guide to the trees of San Salvador is in preparation. As a member of the Bahamas National Trust, Science Advisory Committee, I am a resource person for investigators on the Bahama Flora. For studies on the Bahama Flora, I have advised and collaborated with Cornell undergraduate students (Kass & Miller 2006) and graduate students elsewhere (Slusher et al. 2007). I’m also a consultant for historians working in the field of botany and genetics. I have prepared a forthcoming perspective on the contributions to the Bahama flora. Professor R. P. Murphy and I published a Centennial History of Cornell's Department of Plant Biology (Murphy & Kass 2007, 2011). I have guided Elmira College Honors and Research students in updating names for the T. F. Lucy Herbarium collection, which is currently housed at Cornell (Graver et al. 2005), and in collaboration with Dr. Carol Kelloff of the Smithsonian Institution, we are currently curating Lucy’s historically valuable herbarium specimens for the Buffalo Museum of Science (Tilden et al. 2008).

other area(s) of concentration/expertise

  • Plant Biology, History of Science

keywords

  • Herbarium curation
  • History of Botany
  • Mentor undergraduate and graduate students
  • Plant Biodiversity
  • Plant Reproductive Biology