biology and botany

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Fri Jun 2 10:09:32 CDT 1995

Kirkendall has a good point.  I recall from Mrs. Lincoln's textbook of
botany (she taught at the Pataspco Women's College (I think) in the mid
1800's) a passage to the effect that the study of botany is so well
suited to the feminine psyche (flowers are so delicate).  I also recall
(from personal experience) how those of us who pursue field-oriented
botanical research, especially systematics, are viewed as second class
(or worse) citizens in large departments wishing to emphasize "modern

My own experience, and I don't mean to cast stones at all biologists, is
that botanists have a much broader view of biology, and a greater
appreciation for all avenues of biological research.  Perhaps this arises
because most botanists are required (or find it necessary and/or
desirable) to spend time examining biology from a zoological perspective
while the opposite is not always the case.  I recall taking a course in
systematics taught by a zoologist - the non-botanist students were amazed
to think that what they viewed as minor issues were especially important
to an understanding of botanical systematics (this reminds me of the old
story about who's the better dancer - Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers;
clearly it was Ginger because she had to everything Fred did, and do it
backwards!; the botanical systematist has to learn everything the
zoological systematist does, and then add on top all those things that
are or at least seem peculiar to plants).

Have I struck a raw nerve yet?


Richard J. Jensen      |   E-MAIL: rjensen at
Dept. of Biology       |   TELEPHONE: 219-284-4674
Saint Mary's College   |   FAX: 219-284-4716
Notre Dame, IN  46556  |

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