In memoriam: Emeritus Professor of Botany William Anderson


By Paul E. Berry
Nov 27, 2013 Bookmark and Share

William Anderson, professor emeritus of botany and curator emeritus, U-M Herbarium

William Anderson, professor emeritus of botany and curator emeritus, U-M Herbarium

William Russell Anderson, emeritus professor of botany, died November 2, 2013 at the age of 71.

Professor Anderson was born September 25, 1942 in Tucson, Ariz., the son of John L. and Eleanor (McCaddon) Anderson. He completed his bachelor of science degree at Duke University in 1964, and he obtained his master of science (1965) and doctorate (1971) degrees in botany from the University of Michigan.

Anderson began his career as an associate curator at the New York Botanical Garden in 1971. In 1974, he joined the faculty of the Department of Botany and Herbarium of the University of Michigan. He served as director of the Herbarium from 1986 to 1999. In 2002 he retired, but remained active in research as professor and curator emeritus until shortly before his death.

Anderson was an expert in plant systematics and floristics, as well as botanical nomenclature. He specialized in the flowering plant family Malpighiaceae, in which he had many significant contributions over four decades. He conducted extensive field work throughout Mexico and Central and South America, and he was renowned for his exquisitely prepared herbarium specimens. Along with fellow U-M botanist Rogers McVaugh, they focused much of their field work in western Mexico in the area known as Nueva Galicia. In addition to over 80 scientific papers he published, Anderson was the general editor for eight volumes of the monumental Flora Novo-Galiciana.

During his career, Anderson received numerous awards and recognitions, including the University of Michigan Faculty Recognition Award, the Asa Gray Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the Robert Allerton Award for Excellence in Tropical Botany from the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Colleagues and former students established the William R. Anderson Graduate Student Research Grant Fund at the American Society of Plant Taxonomists to honor his role as mentor to numerous students throughout his career.

On December 21, 1967, Anderson married Christiane Eva Seidenschnur, who survives him along with their daughter Rebecca Christiane.  Their son Russell William preceded him in death.  He is survived by his sisters Carol Boche and Lucile Chevalier and his brother John Anderson, along with his sister-in-law Annette Mahler and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

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