Florida Museum of Natural History botanist Lucas Majure is a 2021 recipient of the University of Florida’s Excellence Award for Assistant Professors, one of the university’s top honors for junior faculty.

An assistant curator of the Florida Museum and curator of the University of Florida Herbarium, Majure’s research combines plant classification and evolutionary biology to provide the fundamental knowledge needed for ecological and pharmacological studies, as well as conservation decision-making and plant biodiversity work.

Majure discovers and analyzes patterns in the geographic distribution of plants, particularly in the New World tropics. His analysis of the evolutionary relationships between different groups of organisms, especially flowering plants, helps identify threatened or endangered species and fragile ecosystems and shape efforts to protect them. He also studies the complexities of how plant genomes and chromosomes evolved, particularly in the cactus family and plants that have undergone duplication of their entire genome, often through hybridization. Using both classical and next-generation DNA sequencing techniques, Majure undertakes the fine detail work of determining the boundaries between plant species, a foundational step for future plant studies.

“Dr. Majure is a brilliant young scientist who is widely viewed as a leader in the fields of genome and chromosomal evolution,” said Florida Museum Director Douglas S. Jones. “His scholarly productivity is outstanding, and he excels as a teacher and mentor committed to fostering success in students from underrepresented backgrounds. As a rising star, he brings distinction to the museum and the university.”

During his research career, Majure has published 76 studies, 23 of which he authored during his three years at the Florida Museum. Since joining the museum, he has also secured more than $1.2 million in new grant support from the National Science Foundation. He leads an NSF-funded project to track the diversity of flowering plants in the New World tropics and co-leads an effort to digitize nearly 1.2 million lichens and bryophytes, a group that includes mosses, hornworts and liverworts.

As the curator of the UF Herbarium, or FLAS, Majure oversees one of the largest tropical plant collections in the U.S. and the oldest, largest and most diverse plant collection in the state. He also serves as an affiliate faculty member in UF’s department of biology, Tropical Conservation and Development Program and Center for Latin American Studies.

The Excellence Award for Assistant Professors includes a one-time allocation of $5,000 in support of research.

Source: Lucas Majure, lmajure@floridamuseum.ufl.edu

Writer: Natalie van Hoose, nvanhoose@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-1922

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