Profile of an Assistant Curator
What is your name? Kari Harris
What is your position? Assistant Curator STAR Herbarium at Arkansas State University
Where do you work? How many year have you been working in ths capacity? [As of Aug 2014] I’ve been at STAR Herbarium at Arkansas State University for 2½ years and joined SPNHC 2 years ago.
What drew you to the natural history field? I pretty much fell into it. I had intended to be a teacher, and had a botany minor, but then my advisor got me working in the herbarium, and I loved it. I am now working on my Masters, and feel I am a botanist in affiliation.
Describe the nature of the collections you work with. The herbarium numbers around 25,000 specimens, mostly vascular plants with a few algae, mosses. . . It started in 1946 when the school was more of a teachers’ college, and it was originally more of a teaching collection. Now both the university and the herbarium are more research -focused; a separate teaching collection is still maintained.
What are your responsibilities? Primarily digitization, but I have other curatorial responsibilities as well, such as pest control, handling loans (although we don’t have an active loan program), manage volunteers, and I give in-house training programs, "how to mount plants" for example.
What do you find most interesting about your work? There’s always something new and different to do and learn.
What accomplishments are you most proud of? NHC3, also known as the Natural History Collections Curation Club, which I started in the Spring of 2013 and has a pretty steady membership of 15 members. We wrote up standard procedures for each collection in the department, and now, for example, the wet collections are wet again.
What have you learned from SPNHC and how has it been particularly helpful? Well, I am pretty much a self-starter in things, but SPNHC has made me feel like I can achieve anything. Whereas previously I had no access to collection resources, nor did I know any professionals in my field, now I can expect to make an impact.