Director's Statement - CCBER 2010-2011

Over 140 representatives from more than 36 countries met at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City for the 4th Global Plants Initiative (GPI) annual meeting in January 2011. As Director, I was pleased to represent CCBER, a partner institution in this important initiative. I enjoyed attending the meetings, participating in future project planning, and attending a post conference field trip to Barro Colorado Island, Panama.

GPI, in partnership with JSTOR Plant Science, is digitizing and making available plant type specimens, photographs, and artwork used by botanists and others working in plant science every day. GPI receives funding and guidance from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. More than 600,000 specimens are currently available and CCBER has contributed over 650 digitized specimens and data. [You can search our specimens by typing “UCSB” (no quotes) in the search box.]

When completed, the JSTOR Plant Science database will be the world’s largest database of plant type specimens, representing the botanical diversity of the planet. There will be over 2.2 million entries, including more than 20,000 paintings, photographs, drawings, and other images linked to botanical literature already found in JSTOR.

CCBER staff, curators, students and volunteers have been extremely productive during the past year on a diverse number of projects supported by a wide range of grants and contracts including the National Science Foundation, Coastal Fund, Faculty Outreach Grants Initiative, Wetland Recovery Project, Goleta Valley Land Trust, and private donations.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the CCBER Herbarium has and continues to undergo a major transformation and revitalization. Over 8,320 specimens have been databased, all of the plant specimens have been moved into the new storage system, and curation and annotation of the specimens is ongoing. A recently funded five-year NSF proposal in partnership with the Consortium of California Herbaria, Collaborative Proposal: Harnessing the Power of Herbaria to Understand the Changing Flora of California: A Biodiversity Hotspot in Peril, provides funding for databasing and georeferencing all specimens of plants that are the dominants in California habitats (i.e., woody plants and grasses) and those that are most imperiled by threats to biodiversity including climate change. CCBER is serving as the lead institution, and we will partner with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. CCBER is looking forward to hiring undergraduate students to participate in the data entry and georeferencing.

In January 2011, CCBER became a center under the Office of Research, and the Earth Research Institute (ERI) accepted the responsibility of CCBER’s administrative management. CCBER’s transfer to the Office of Research was recommended by an external review in 2009 to ensure the continued success and growth of CCBER as a campus-wide asset dedicated to education and research across the UCSB campus. Thank you to the Office of Research and ERI for your support and management.

CCBER continues to play an important role in the academic lives of UCSB undergraduates. Record numbers of UCSB students are enrolling in our restoration, curation, and education internships and environmental education course. During the last three quarters, we had the privilege of mentoring about 160 UCSB students. Many of the students enrolled in the education course and internship have applied and been accepted to graduate schools to earn advanced degrees in environmental education (New York University) and teaching credentials (USC and UCSB). We are very proud of CCBER’s role in teaching and mentoring these students.


Jennifer Thorsch

Katherine Esau Director
Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration