TCNJ Magazine - Spring 2019

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29 SPRING 2019 Roughly a century and a quarter ago, three students at TCNJ's first incarnation, the New Jersey State Normal School, collected about 450 plant specimens from the Trenton area. With care and precision, Sarah Kandle, Nelson Pepper, and Margaret Todd assembled them into herbarium books, bound libraries used to study biodiversity and ecology. But at some point, the books fell off the radar until the STEM Building 's construction in 2017 prompted a deep dive into storage in a botany lab. "These books are a fun find," says biology professor Wendy Clement. "They are snapshots in time of the plant diversity in the region." In fact, one book traveled to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, included, one guesses, because the students' professor Austin Craig Apgar, vice principal of the Normal School and member of the Class of 1862, was a well-known botanist. Since the rediscovery, Clement's research students have compiled the plants' classification information, digitized the specimens, and registered TCNJ as an herbarium with the Index Herbariorum at the New York Botanical Garden. The continuing importance of the books hit home for Matthew Fertakos '19, who wrote his senior honors thesis on herbarium collections. "Students can look at individual species," he says, "and study how plants are responding to changes in the environment over the course of 100 years." —Kara Pothier Leiophyllum buxifolium Common name: Sand Myrtle Primarily found in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, the Coastal Plain of the Carolinas, and in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 29

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