Thomas M. Pullen Herbarium
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History
The University of Mississippi Herbarium (MISS) was initiated in 1963, when biology faculty moved into their new five-story building, Shoemaker Hall. The building included 781 square feet of space on the fourth floor designed for the main herbarium collection, plus two additional workrooms (375 square feet). That same year, Dr. Thomas M. Pullen joined the Department of Biology. He began by salvaging the historically important collections of E. N. Lowe, A. Allison and T. L. Bailey that had been stored for over 40 years in the Mississippi State Geological Survey (Lowe 1921). Many of these specimens date from the late 1800's and early 1900's and represent the oldest specimens in the collection.


From 1966 through 1971, Pullen was the principle investigator on two NSF grants with coinvestigators Samuel B. Jones of The University of Southern Mississippi and J. Ray Watson of Mississippi State University. The grants funded faculty time and travel, as well as graduate student support, allowing an intensive seven year period of plant collecting within the state. Their justification for funding included a statement by Duncan (1953) that the vascular plant flora of Mississippi was the least collected of any state in the southeastern US. Their goal was to collect intensively in order to stimulate plant systematic research that would eventually result in a state flora. Accessions in the Pullen Herbarium document the work that Pullen, his students and colleagues accomplished in that period, by bringing the number of specimens from zero in 1963 to over 46,000 by the end of 1971. Some of the significant additions to the collection include those of Pullen (1966a, 1966b), Pullen et al. (1968), Temple and Pullen (1968), Jones (1974a, 1974b, 1975a, 1975b, 1976a, 1976b), Jones et al. (1969), Lassetter (1968), and Searcy (1977).


Pullen retired in 1983 and the herbarium was untended until 1985, when the curatorship was transferred to Dr. M.B. Huneycutt, Emeritus Professor. A trained mycologist, Huneycutt collected vascular plants in northern counties of the state, concentrating on the Pontotoc Ridge, and added more than 8,000 accessions in twelve years.


Today, the Department of Biology is emphasizing its program in evolution, conservation and ecology through faculty hires and changes in the curriculum. Late in 1998, Dr. Lucile McCook was appointed interim Curator and given the task of modernizing the collection. In 1999, the herbarium was formally dedicated to the memory of the late Thomas M. Pullen. Later that same year, McCook was given a full time position as Curator and Instructor. Four additional Ph.D.-level botanists are part of the teaching faculty .


Currently, the National Science Foundation is funding modernization and database efforts through its Biological Research Collections program. The three year funding period is from July 2001 to August 2004.
Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.
Please report problems to the webmaster. Site content last updated September 2004. Database last updated January 2005.
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