At the ASU Herbarium, I am the project manager on a recent NSF grant to digitize our ca. 60,000 Latin American plant specimens. We use high resolution digital photography, optical character recognition, and automatic parsing (SALIX) to speed the process of data entry. I handle the archival process, quality control, and the training and management of about 10 hourly workers. I have also developed the workflow process, which efficiently moves data from the physical specimen to our web-accessible database on SEINet.
I am also working on a digital field guide for the ASU Arboretum, which consists of geotagged photographs of the living collection. This project can be viewed on SEINet or Panoramio (see "projects", below). I am treating this project like a prototype for a fully-cataloged field guide that would be accessible on mobile devices. Instead of a paper map, visitors would be able to download an app that would function as an interactive guide to the Arboretum, complete with not only images, but ethnobotanical and ecological data.
I believe that the future of natural history collections depends upon public support. As Joseph Campbell once said, "I don't believe in being interested in a subject just because it's said to be important. I believe in being caught by it somehow or other." (Campbell and Moyers 1988). Natural history is one of the most interesting and inherently valuable subjects to me, but I realize that not everyone sees it the way I do. With the right introduction, though, a natural fascination will arise along with the realization of the value of collections. People will not value what we do just because we say that it's important; we need to demonstrate that it is so.
- Full name
- Anne Barber
- I am
- a professional scientist