Depriest, Paula T. (Former Member)
Paula was born on October 5, 1957, and raised in Dyer, Tennessee, where she developed a strong interest in lichens. While an undergraduate, she completed a 1977 field course in lichenology with Smithsonian Curator Mason E. Hale at the University of Montana Biological Station Summer Field School. She continued studies of lichenology while completing a BS degree in biology at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee, in 1978; an MS degree in botany at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1988; and a PhD degree in botany at Duke University in 1992. Paula has worked as a research scientist and curator of the lichen collection (U.S. National Herbarium) in the Botany Section of the Department Systematic Biology of the National Museum of Natural History from February 1992 to 2003 with research in the systematics and phylogeny of lichen-forming fungi. She holds positions as adjunct professor at Duke University (1997-2003) and George Mason University (1998-2003). She was a guest professor at the Institut für Botanik, Karl Franzens Universität, Graz, Austria, in 1995, a guest lecturer in the Department of Ecological Botany, Umeå University, Sweden, in 1995, and has twice served as a dissertation opponent for PhD candidates at Swedish Universities. From 1994 to 1995, Paula directed the National Museum of Natural History Research Training Program. She has served in many capacities in the Museum’s Senate of Scientists, including chair in 1999. Paula has strong interests in public outreach and training of students. She has served as research advisor to 22 students, including postdoctoral and predoctoral fellows and undergraduate interns, worked with researchers from all over the world, and published over 35 research studies. Her publications include biographies of biologists for the American National Biography. She organized and hosted a conference for the National Science Foundation Partnerships Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy Program in 2000 and served on the Public Programs Committee for the National Museum of Natural History from 1996 to 1999. Research and fieldwork have taken her throughout Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries, and to Belize, Guyana, and Hawaii. Her early lichenological studies were conducted in the southern Appalachians and the southeastern U.S. Her research has been featured in various journals and newspapers, including BioScience, Science, and the New York Times. Paula was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 2000.