Yelena I. Kosovich-Anderson

Yelena I. Kosovich-Anderson

I was born in Siberia, in the city of Irkutsk located not far away from Lake Baikal. I am the second-generation botanist in my family. My mother, being a post-graduate student in botany, back in the 1960s, brought me to my first “scientific” expedition. It was on Lake Baikal, and I was two years old. My later teenage years were full of happy summers that I spent travelling across Baikal Siberia on my mother’s practical field botany courses. The picturesque nature of the unique lake charmed me, and I became eager to learn more about it. Tiny creatures like insects and mosses intrigued my imagination the most. When the right time came, I became a student of Irkutsk State University (ISU), Faculty of Biology and Soil Studies, and during the first two years of school I made my final decision in favor of botany and bryology.

I began my journey as a bryologist in 1982, working on a M.Sc. research project suggested by my mentor, Dr. Leonid V. Bardunov. It was my good luck to be supervised, from the very beginning, by the author of the fundamental works on mosses of Central Siberia and a person of deep knowledge in the field of botany. He taught me the basics of moss microscopy technique and helped me get accustomed to using the bryophyte keys. In 1984, I received the graduate degree in Biological Sciences at ISU, and in five years, after defending my dissertation “Bryophyte Flora of the Boggy Valleys of the Lake Baikal Area” at Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia, I received a Candidate of Biological Sciences degree [see:]. I joined the ISU Botany and Genetics Department, where most of my professional experience was teaching general botany, field practical botany course, bryology, and practicum on vascular plant systematics at ISU, and, cooperatively with my colleagues, floristic research of environmentally protected areas of the Baikal region. Participation in botanical expeditions to Lake Baikal and East Sayan Mts., organized by Telmatological research group of ISU (Leader, Dr. I. G. Lyakhova) and by the Herbarium group of the Siberian Plant Physiology and Biochemistry Institute (Leader, Dr. L. V. Bardunov) provided me with invaluable experience in bryological field studies for years ahead. In 1999, I was invited to the Field Museum at Chicago, IL, where I worked on a grant from the Field Museum Scholarship Program, the Robert O. Bass Visiting Scientist Fund. I did my research dealing with data gathering for my educational manuals and bryology course at ISU. Dr. J. J. Engel gave a series of excellent classes on hepaticology, that advanced my knowledge of liverworts.

In the early 2000s I started bryological research in the United States, when I came to the University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, as a selected finalist of an international exchange program (for more details see: Kosovich-Anderson (2019), ). For the last two decades, I have worked in Wyoming on the long-term research project on bryophyte floristic inventories. My research has centered on systematic studies of bryophyte diversity in the state with many discoveries and major results:

  • Documentation of no less than 55 additions to the state moss flora, including several new to the North American continent; work on description of new taxa. Both distribution and habitat information on many Wyoming species has been fully reevaluated.
  • Expeditions and consequent technical reports and publications on bryophyte floras of the following environmentally protected areas: Medicine Bow, Shoshone, Black Hills, and Bighorn National Forests, Devils Tower National Monument, and the portions of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem within the borders of the Beartooth Plateau, Absaroka and Wind River Ranges, etc.
  • Ongoing work on the “Conspectus of the Bryophyte Flora of Wyoming” (working title), largely based on my personal herbarium of approximately 26,000 bryophyte specimens (partially deposited at: ASC, BHSC, BING, BONN, CAS, COLO, DUKE, F, H, MHA, MO, MONTU, MORU, RM, S, UBC, UC, US, and VBGI). For 20 years of bryological research in Wyoming, I have succeeded in building up a rich collection of mosses and liverworts. Collection to date spans all 23 counties of Wyoming, representing Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and Intermountain Basin physiographic provinces of the state. This herbarium is currently the largest collection of Wyoming bryophytes in existence, being a valuable resource documenting the state bryophyte flora for further taxonomic, ecological, and phytogeographical studies.

From 2008 to present – I am an independent contractor and consultant, collaborating with academia and federal agencies in Wyoming, and Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, and Oregon. I am also a Curator of Bryophyte Collections at the RM herbarium since 2016.

I would like to add that I am grateful for my good fortune in having the opportunity to work in such beautiful and unique corners of the world, like Baikal Siberia and the American Rocky Mountains. Very few women are studying bryophytes in these regions, and I am proud to be one of these women.