Research and Teaching
The herbarium is integral to a range of teaching and research activities. It helped form the basis for Flora Europaea and recently the Checklist Flora of Morocco.
At the undergraduate level the main use of the herbarium is to provide reference material for Honours projects both as a raw data source (specimen based projects) through to identification aids to field based project where plant material is the main or a secondary element of the research; plant pollinator studies for instance.
At MSc level the herbarium plays a vital supporting role in the gaining of key identification skills. For research students and staff the herbarium provides both the raw material for research (specimens and a specialist library), the means by which herbarium loan requests can be made internationally and a secure repository for research voucher specimens.
The University of Reading Herbarium provides an invaluable teaching and research resource for those studying in the School of Biological Sciences, especially those following the Bioenvironmental stream of the BSc in Biological Sciences.
The BSc in Botany has now been incorporated into the BSc in Biological Sciences and there remains a regular use of the herbarium for project research. In recent years the emphasis has been on the use of specimens to study plant phenology but this year one project has been to rebuild and update the Herbarium website.
A number of these students use the Herbarium as part of their final year project, under supervision from their project tutor. Some examples of how the Herbarium is being actively used in Undergraduate research are shown below.
The MSc in Plant Diversity (previously the M.Sc. in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy) has run continuously since its launch in 1969.
Over 500 M.Sc. research projects have used the herbarium collections in their research.
In 2019, the MSc is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary. Please check Reading Botany for updates regarding the year’s celebration.
The herbarium forms the resource base for extensive PhD research. It provides source material for primary research, arranges and houses loans for research projects, and ultimately hosts the voucher specimens and field collections of PhD researchers as well as having a library of key reference material in addition to that of the University main library.
There are currently over 20 UK and overseas PhD students whose work is based around the herbarium.