I am a PhD student in my first year Ohio State University's Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology program where I study plant systematics and ecology with interests in the phylogeny and physiology of carnivorous plants. Prior to joining the graduate program at OSU, I spent three and a half years as a research assistant in Joan Slonczewski's microbiology lab at Kenyon College investigating pH homeostasis in E. coli and Bacillus subtilis, having been a coauthor on five articles thus far. I'm originally from Newton, New Jersey where I spent my childhood and teen years perfecting my bowling game and generally being a nerd. I received my B.S. in biology at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania and then moved on to partially fulfill the requirements for a M.A. in environmental studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington before realizing botany and natural science research were my real passion.
This blog focuses mostly on my travels and botanical interests with occasional entries on research that captures my attention. I'm particularly fascinated with the carnivorous plant genera and the Western Australian flora, including Stylidium (triggerplants).
The name for this blog, Cunabulum, comes from the obscure name for a morphological characteristic of a group of triggerplants. The triggerplants have a fused male and female reproductive column that swings up rapidly when triggered by a pollinating insect, depositing or receiving pollen. The small group of Stylidium known as the locket triggerplants have a small dilated portion of the column that acts as a hood or cradle for the terminal anthers, protecting it from spreading the pollen prematurely. When the trigger is activated, the hinged cradle is flipped back to reveal the pollen. The term cunabulum was chosen for this unique morphology in 1994 by Allen Lowrie and Kevin Kenneally. Rica Erickson had earlier (1958) elegantly described the phenomenon: "a miniature locket with elastic hinges, enclosing the precious pack of pollen inside the lid." An undergraduate professor of mine once told me that botanists have a penchant for an ever-expanding glossary of botanical terms because they have nothing better to do in the field while waiting for plants to flower. I find this characteristic charming. For more on this, I wrote an in-depth post: the peculiar modification of the locket triggerplants.
Contact me via e-mail: ryan (at) cunabulum (dot) com