The BRIT Collections (Herbarium and Library), The Conservation Seed Lab and Seed Bank, and the Sumner Lab are the heart of the Research Institute. The Research Collections allow the organization to achieve its mission to “Conserve our natural heritage by deepening our knowledge of the plant world and achieving public understanding of the value plants bring to life.”
The BRIT Herbarium contains approximately 1,445,000 plant specimens from around the world, making it one of the largest herbaria in the United States. More can be found about the collections by visiting the About the BRIT Herbarium page. The Herbarium is overseen by Director of the Herbarium & Collections Manager Tiana F. Rehman.
The BRIT Library supports botanical research and education in Texas and around the world. Our collection has been carefully curated and is a valuable research tool for those studying systematic botany, horticulture, natural history and ethnobotany. The BRIT Library houses one of the largest and finest collections of botanical works in the southwestern United States. The BRIT Library is overseen by Librarian Ana Niño.
Texas is home to 448 rare vascular plant species, including 113 species categorized by NatureServe as Critically Imperiled and at high risk for extinction. The BRIT Seed collections serve as a powerful tool in preventing extinction by serving as a genetic backup that can be used to repopulate a lost population. The Seed Bank is managed by Erin Flinchbaugh.
The George C. and Sue W. Sumner Molecular and Structural Laboratory is a 1700-square-foot research facility. It allows BRIT scientists, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, visiting scientists, technical staff, and interns to investigate botany at various levels in a state-of-the art facility. The Sumner Lab is divided into five components: separate DNA and RNA extraction labs, a post-PCR molecular space, a structural space for comparative anatomy, and a scanning electron microscopy (SEM) room. The Sumner Lab is also home to the BRIT Biorepository, a GGBN-partnered biodiversity biobank dedicated to the long-term preservation and storage of DNA and tissues intended for genomic research. Research at the laboratory complements traditional field, herbarium, and literature research about plants and lichens. The Sumner Lab is overseen by Alejandra Vasco, Manuela Dal Forno, and Morgan Gostel.
BRIT Library has ongoing exhibitions on view in the Upper Atrium Collections Gallery and the Library, which highlight the Library’s Arader Natural History Collection of Art and rare materials from the Library’s Special Collections and Rare Book Room. The Library also oversees installations on current BRIT Research Programs in the Upper Atrium Research Gallery. BRIT Library exhibitions are overseen by Librarian Ana Niño.