Project Coordinator (Macroalgal Herbarium Consortium)
I’m coordinating the digitization of approximately 60,000 macroalgae specimens from the University of Michigan Herbarium, as well as nearly 20,000 specimens from smaller regional herbaria, as part of the Macroalgal Herbarium Consortium digitization project. Macroalgae are a broad group of aquatic organisms, ranging from only a few centimeters long to over 40 meters. Collectively, marine macroalgae are often called seaweed, while freshwater macroalgae are sometimes called pondweed, or just algae. Macroalgae have economic significance, both as food (especially in Asia and the Pacific Islands) and as a source for colloids, which are extracted for use in pharmaceuticals, food products, and cosmetics.
Michigan is one of 49 herbaria from across the country participating in this project, which aims to digitize more than 1.1 million macroalgae specimens. The digitization process includes barcoding each specimen, imaging it, transcribing the label and any annotations, georeferencing where it was collected, and organizing all of the resulting data in a searchable internet database accessible to the public. Many of the specimens in the Michigan herbarium are historic, some dating as far back as the early 1800s. These records provide valuable biodiversity, taxonomic, and distribution data, and once digitized, will allow researchers much easier access to this wealth of knowledge.