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Spring Break: Geo-referencing Historical Plant Photographs and Collections of José Cuatrecasas


DESCRIPTION: One of the greatest botanists of the Neotropics, Don José Cuatrecasas Arumí (1903-1996), collected thousands of plants (ca. 25,000) and anthropological specimens in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador between 1932 and 1979. He compiled an astounding photographic archive with more than 20,000 images, accompanied by detailed descriptions of the vegetation and studies of the indigenous people. He published approximately 262 papers; he is the author (or co-author) of two subtribes, 41 genera and about 3,308 new species, subspecies or varieties of plants. The Smithsonian Institution holds the most important collection of specimens and photographs from Cuatrecasas, including most of his journals, field books and notebooks. Since 2005 we have transcribed into Spanish and translated into English his first two journals, and with the collaboration of students and volunteers we have scanned more than 5,000 of his photographs. Our current goal is to geo-reference Cuatrecasas plant photographs and collections, to make this information available online for research and for the general public

QUALIFICATIONS: Background in biology, particularly botany. In addition, familiarity with the following computing packages and online resources is helpful: Excel, Access, Aperture (Mac), Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Bridge, Google Earth, Google Maps, HTML code and KML code.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: In addition to learning about botany, the intern will learn how to: 1. Scan photographs in different formats (including black and white large negatives). 2. Edit and clean digital images in Photoshop and/or Aperture. 3. Geo-reference photographs based on the information of Cuatrecasas journals of expeditions, using electronic gazetteers, physical maps and online maps (Google Earth, Google Maps, Aperture, etc.). 4. Populate metadata of photographs (keywords, photograph series and number, etc.). 5. Link photographs with plant specimens in the US National Herbarium. 6. Continue building the database of photographs.

TIMETABLE: Spring Break


Project Contact Name: Mauricio Diazgranados

Phone: 202-633-0950/0951

E-mail: DiazgranadosM@si.edu