Time to pack the bags! Alejandra Vasco (Botanical Research Institute of Texas), Michael Sundue (University of Vermont), and myself have recently been awarded a $1.1 million grant from NSF to study fern diversity in Colombia, with a focus on improving understanding of diversity in this species-rich but understudied country. The project, titled "PurSUiT: Collaborative Research: Accelerating Lineage Discovery to Document Neotropical Fern Diversity", will seek to advance our knowledge of fern diversity in the American tropics by tying together field work, collections-based research, phylogenomics, and biodiversity informatics. To make the study of fern diversity in this hotspot more efficient, we will be developing a data portal that will integrate the resources developed as part of this work.
This project involves extensive collaborations with colleagues in Colombia, and a large part of this research will be carried out there, both doing fieldwork and working in collections. Along with improving our understanding of fern diversity, this research initiative will help develop research connections between US and Colombian partners and hopefully support conservation efforts in Colombia. We also have secured significant funding to support student training and research, which will also be an important part of what we'll be doing! Looking forward to having more to say about this soon!