Field of Science

Who is a botanist?

The Phytophactor is a botanist. His official title is Professor of Botany Emeritus, his graduate degrees are in botany, and the courses he taught were botany courses. Too many of my colleagues think botany is an old fashioned label rather than one of great distinction. Plant science is a favored label of some, but plant science, plant science, plant science, it just doesn't have a ring to it. The problem is that some of my colleagues prefer a narrower perspective. TPP introduced one of his colleagues as a botanist, and my colleague insisted he was not a botanist, so TPP focused things a bit, and said, well, alright Dave here is a geneticist thinking that would mollify him, but again he insisted this was not correct, so fine Dave, you are a cytogeneticist, and then he nodded, stuck out his hand, and said, "I'm a maize cytogeneticist".  Now given the importance of maize, this is not a small field, but not recognizing that you belong to larger and more general collective groups is in TPP's opinion, a small perspective. My ecological colleagues prefer to be called an ecologist rather than a botanist, but obviously they are both. And phycologists, physiologists, bryologists, and others all prefer the smaller, narrower label, as if somehow the broader label diminishes their expertise. The Phytophactor is a pure botanist trained in plant anatomy, plant morphology, and systematics/taxonomy, pure, undistilled, unadulterated botany. And it's time botanists of all flavors reclaimed the distinguished field of botany, the study of plants, not plant science, as their own. There. Said and done. And TPP could not be prouder.

No comments: