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Seminar: Plant Fossils of Tennessee by Elizabeth Hermsen

October 15 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Dr. Elizabeth Hermsen is a Research Scientist specializing in paleobotany at the Paleontological Research Institution. Before joining PRI in 2018, she had postdoctoral positions at the University of Kansas and Cornell University; she was later a faculty member at Ohio University, where she taught structural botany. Her current research projects including elucidating the fossil record of water ferns and describing plant taxa from the fruit and seed flora of the early Pliocene Gray Fossil Site, Tennessee. She is also contributing to the Digital Encyclopedia of Ancient Life, an online, open-access textbook of paleontology.

Dr. Hermsen’s research program encompasses describing and interpreting the structure of fossil plants, as well as exploring plant evolution and biogeography from the perspective of the fossil record. Her dissertation research was focused on the North American fossil records of sweetspires (Iteaceae) and currants and gooseberries (Grossulariaceae). For her postdoctoral positions, she researched fossil vascular plants from the southern hemisphere, including Triassic plants from Antarctica and Late Cretaceous and Eocene plants from Patagonia, Argentina; she worked on ancient water ferns (Salviniales), cycads (Cycadales), and flowering plants (angiosperms), among other groups. She continues to collaborate on projects involving the systematics of Patagonian paleofloras, and she also maintains a research program into the fossil record and evolution of water ferns.

Currently, Dr. Hermsen’s major research focus is to describe fossil plant taxa from the fruit and seed flora of the early Pliocene Gray Fossil Site of eastern Tennessee, USA. Gray Fossil Site is one of only a few Neogene plant macrofossil sites in eastern North America, and its flora and fauna show some links to the modern biota of eastern Asia. The purpose of the project is to further document the biodiversity of the flora and to explore its biogeographic connections. As part of the broader impacts of the project, Dr. Hermsen is creating related content for the Digital Encyclopedia of Ancient Life.

Seminars are held via Zoom on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. Central Time (7:30 p.m. Eastern Time) and last about one hour. All members and potential members are welcome to join the meeting. The link to join this seminar is:


October 15
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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