GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History Ph. D. candidate Lucas Majure recently received the 2009-2010 University of Florida Graduate Student Teaching Award.

The University of Florida Graduate School offers the award to nominees across campus, and Majure is the only winner from the biological sciences of the 21 recipients for 2009-2010. He won the award for teaching BOT 2710/5725, Plant Taxonomy, which he has taught three times.

“The class covers all of the major vascular plant groups throughout the plant tree of life, and we teach the students how to identify them,” Majure said. “So if they were dropped off anywhere on the planet, they should be able to at least have a good idea of what major plant groups they encounter.”

Majure’s advisers are Doug Soltis and Walter Judd, both distinguished professors of biology with affiliate appointments in the Florida Museum.

“Lucas has an enthusiasm for teaching and learning that is contagious,” Soltis said. “He is extremely dedicated to his students in the classes he instructs.”

Majure is researching the systematics and evolution of a large genus of cacti, called Opuntia, which are found from Canada south to Chile and Argentina. He is currently completing a large phylogeny, or study of evolutionary relatedness, of the genus and studying a smaller subgroup in the southeastern U.S.

“Lucas has a real excitement for plants, and I especially enjoyed watching him on field trips,” Judd said. “He has a keen eye and often would spot species that I had missed.”

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Source: Doug Soltis, 352-273-1963,
Walter Judd, 352-273-1983,
Writer: Vilma Jarvinen
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,