Research at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas

BRIT research staff strives to incorporate the “three Ds” into each of our projects: discovery, documentation, and dissemination. Our researchers generally focus their projects around the themes of Biodiversity, Evolution, and Conservation, incorporating and contributing to our world-class Collections. Participating in a variety of projects at the state, national, and international level, our researchers are always on the go…and always learning. The Botanical Research Institute of Texas is dedicated to providing the community with world-class research in every project.

For email reminders about upcoming programs, events, and opportunities from BRIT Research, please sign up for our BRIT Research Mailing List. Check out recordings of past talks from the Research Lecture Series and other videos from the Research team at our YouTube Playlist.

The Herbarium

The Herbarium

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The BRIT Press

The BRIT Press

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Sumner Laboratory

Sumner Laboratory

The Sumner Molecular and Structural Laboratory is a plant research and teaching center...
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Research Resources

Research Resources

Research Associates, Blog, Lecture Series...
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Library & Special Collections

Library & Special Collections

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Digital Resources

Digital Resources

Herbarium Collections TORCH portal - this site includes all the digitized plant specimens from BRIT (BRIT, SMU, VDB, NLU) along with the specimens of...
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Research Publications

Research Publications

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Get Involved

Get Involved

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Research Programs

Urban Ecology Program

The BRIT campus was designed not only to inspire but also to serve as a living research lab for biodiversity science as it relates to sustainable landscape design. Ongoing projects involve a diverse team spanning across Research, Education, and Operations departments.

Ericales Program

Studying the Systematics, Evolution, and Biodiversity of a Megadiverse Clade of Flowering Plants

The Ericales Program is led by Dr. Peter Fritsch.

Philippines Program

Documenting plants and lichens in a biodiversity hotspot.

The Philippines Program is led by Dr. Peter Fritsch.

Compositae Systematics

Taxonomy and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes Program

The Taxonomy and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes Program at BRIT is led by Research Botanist Dr. Alejandra Vasco.

The Program focuses broadly on taxonomy, systematics, and evolution of these two plant lineages. We ask questions about species diversity, evolutionary relationships among taxa, trait evolution using comparative methods, and the role that genes play in plant morphological diversity. Our work, whether on ferns or lycophytes, integrates techniques from several disciplines, including traditional specimen-based research in herbaria, fieldwork, anatomy, phylogenetic systematics, and evolutionary genomics. We are a diverse team with many ongoing projects.

Lichen Evolution and Diversity Program

Dr. Manuela Dal Forno's research program addresses many questions involving evolution, ecology, and genetics utilizing lichen symbioses as models. Her interests can be categorized into three main areas: lichen systematics, microbiome evolution, and genomics.

Herbarium Curation Projects

The herbarium collections are the core of BRIT and support ongoing research projects. Here you can read about our projects related to our collections.

Herbarium Curatorial Projects are led by Tiana F. Rehman.

Biodiversity and Floristics

The researchers and Resident Research Associates of BRIT conduct botanical research around the world, documenting the diversity of plant life from Texas to the Philippines. Their research is reported in academic journals and other publications such as monographs and regional floras and field guides.

Texas Plant Conservation Program

Plant diversity is being lost at an alarming rate. It is this same diversity that supports human livelihoods and many of our most precious natural resources. One of BRIT’s major goals is to raise awareness of the value plants bring to life, and the threats they face worldwide. BRIT is committed to working toward conserving plant diversity at home in Texas, and around the world.

The Texas Plant Conservation Program is led by Conservation Botanist Dr. Megan O'Connell.

Biodiversity Informatics Program

The Biodiversity Informatics Program is led by Jason Best.

Library Exhibitions

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.

Library exhibitions are overseen by BRIT Librarian, Brandy Watts.

Recent Articles

Botanical Art = Botanical Science

The history of civilization can be told through pictures of plants. The roots of botanical art and the science of botany began in ancient Greek and Roman times, depicting plants as a means of understanding and recording their potential uses.

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Alejandra Vasco, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Ana Niño


Ashley Bordelon

Herbarium Collections Manager

Barney L. Lipscomb

Director of BRIT Press and Library, Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany

Brooke Byerley Best, Ph.D.

Director of Research Programs

Bob O’Kennon

Research Scientist

Diego Barroso

TORCH TCN Project Manager

Erin Flinchbaugh

Conservation Program Assistant

Gabrielle Harris

Press Sales and Fulfillment Coordinator

Jason Best

Director of Biodiversity Informatics

Jessica Lane

Herbarium Assistant

Kelly Carroll

Herbarium Digitization Technician

Kimberlie Sasan

Herbarium & Research Assistant

Manuela Dal Forno, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Megan O’Connell, Ph.D.

Conservation Botanist

Morgan Gostel, Ph.D.

Research Botanist

Natch Rodriguez

Herbarium Digitization Technician

Peter Fritsch, Ph.D.

Vice President of Research

Rachel Carmickle

Herbarium Technician & Conservation Program Assistant

Robert George

East Texas Flora Project Manager

Tiana Franklin Rehman

Director of the Herbarium & Collections Manager