Microscopist to discuss plant material from Lewis and Clark


PITTSBURGH – On the eve of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Harry A. Alden, a microscopist from the Smithsonian Center for Material Research and Education will speak as a part of the Carnegie Mellon University lecture series.

Alden will discuss the preliminary examination of plant material from the Lewis and Clark expedition on Nov. 21, at 4:30 p.m. in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Starting point. Pittsburgh is an apropos location for this lecture, as some historians postulate that Meriwether Lewis launched his keelboat from Pittsburgh, marking it as a starting point for one of America’s most important expeditions.

Now, almost 200 years later, some of the plants that the two explorers collected on their journey will be showcased at Carnegie Mellon.

Plant specimens. During the 1803-1806 expedition, Lewis and Clark collected more than 200 plant specimens.

The specimens were then shipped to England for identification and returned to America.

They now reside in The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In 1998, small samples were removed from 11 of the original 200 specimens for chemical and anatomical analysis.

Alden will be presenting findings of their condition and says that from preliminary data, most samples demonstrate “exquisite preservation at the cellular level.”


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