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Budke Excited to Expand Scope and Reach of UT Herbarium

Jessica Budke,“Plants are my passion,” says Assistant Professor Jessica Budke, whose research focus is on the development and evolution of mosses.

As the new director of the UT Herbarium, she is proud to carry on the strong tradition of bryological research at UT, which began in 1934 with A. J. (Jack) Sharp.

The herbarium, UT’s plant library, is one of the largest in the Southeast with over 600,000 specimens from across the state of Tennessee and beyond. This biodiversity collection serves as a resource for researchers studying global climate change, biological invasions, and species relationships.

“Our research abilities and the increasing usefulness of biodiversity collections for the study of our living planet will continue to expand as we look to the future,” says Budke.

The herbarium is located in Temple Hall. Budke and her team are planning renovations to enhance the space and increase visiting researcher capacity. They are also expanding the herbarium team to include additional undergraduate students to participate in ongoing mounting and databasing projects.

The continuing support of the L. R. Hesler Endowment, which annually funds a graduate student research assistantship in the herbarium, provides EEB graduate students with the opportunity to gain advanced training in biodiversity research and specimen curation. The assistantship prepares them to be the next wave of successful scientists. Additionally, Budke is expanding the herbarium team to include adult volunteers. Interested in contributing? Contact

“I am excited to be joining an EEB department with a strong track record of botanical excellence,” says Budke. “It is an energetic and stimulating time to be joining the department. I look forward to engaging in collaborative projects with other EEB members that increase our botanical knowledge within the state of Tennessee and beyond.”

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