Laura Briscoe

Laura Briscoe

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and spent a lot of my childhood outdoors, always noticing small things. ?I actually wanted to be an entomologist, and started volunteering in the entomology collections at the Natural History Museum of Utah starting at age 14. I continued to be interested in entomology, and it wasn’t until my second in year in college when I started taking botany classes that I was hooked. I was able to take a bryophyte biology and ecology course that year and as soon as I saw a leafy liverwort rehydrate under a microscope I thought there was nothing else I wanted to look at for the rest of my life.

?I have a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, with an emphasis in botany and museum studies. I then moved to Chicago to work in the botany collections at The Field Museum, where I stayed for a decade. During that time I received a M.S. in Plant Biology and Conservation from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden, with a focus on plant taxonomy and systematics. I was also able to do field work in southern Chile and Fiji during that time, helping work on a floristic treatment for the liverworts of the Cape Horn region, and a systematic understanding of the family Acrobolbaceae.

 In late 2016 I moved to New York City to be the collections manager of the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the New York Botanical Garden. I oversee ca. 700,000 of bryophytes, including almost 20,000 type specimens. ?It’s a joy to help other researchers find what they need in our massive collections, and every day I discover something I didn’t know about before, so I’m in a constant state of learning.

After two decades in collections work, I have become very interested in understanding and contextualizing the power dynamics of how collections are made and housed, and the importance of decolonization of our understanding of natural history collections and of our understanding of the natural world. I am also extremely passionate about exsiccatae collections and am interested in the digitization of specimens and schedae. At present I am overseeing the digitization of bryophytes and lichens from non-North America held at NY.

Selected Bibliography:

Briscoe, L. et al. (2009) Bryophytes of adjacent serpentine and granite outcrops on the Deer Isles, Maine, USA. Rhodora 111 (945): 1-20.

Briscoe, L., Engel, J.J., Söderström, L, Hagborg, A., von Konrat, M. (2015) Notes on Early Land Plants Today. 66. Nomenclatural notes on Acrobolbaceae. Phytotaxa 202 (1): 58-62.

Briscoe, L., et al. (2017) Molecular, morphological and biogeographic perspectives on the classification of Acrobolboideae (Acrobolbaceae, Marchatiophyta). Phytotaxa 319 (1): 56-70.

Briscoe, L., et al. (2022) Shining Light on Labels in the Dark: Guidelines for Offensive Collections Materials. Collections (in prep)