Natalie R.

Pressed plants from NKU’s Herbarium.

Giant moths take over the NKU herbarium

Dr. Maggie Whitson teaches students the importance of herbariums

July 25, 2019

Bugs and plants are weird. Everyone knows this. The U.S. has small, little bugs that buzz in your ear every 5 seconds. But Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Japan and so many other places around the world have giant, terrifying, huge winged bugs, silk moths that made me jump 10 feet in the air. However, Dr. Maggie Whitson, director of the John T. Thieret Herbarium, taught me that no matter how scary, plants and bugs are so important. The plants put air in our lungs and help us thrive in today’s world. Even the cow who’s steak we eat, ate plants first.

Which leads me to one misconception that almost every student—middle, high school or college, makes about the work of a botanist and how Whitson overcomes it.

Inexperienced botanists or anyone unaware of the research done at the herbarium think that animals make up all of the research. Most people could be surrounded by the most beautiful plants they’ve ever seen, flourishing purples and beautiful yellows, flowers that seem almost out of a nature documentary, and still be distracted by the button nosed creature that ran past their shoes.

Yet, all of the work that Whitson and her team had been studying and presenting for years are plants. All plants. She was extremely enthusiastic about these plants. Anyone listening could hear in the tone of her voice how passionate she was through every turn of the tour. The words flowed off her lips as she wore a genuine smile—and she wants to pass this passion on to new students.

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Giant moths take over the NKU herbarium