Staff

Zack E. Murrell (Project Director)

Michael Denslow (Project Manager)

Michael currently serves as Project Manager for the SERNEC – Thematic Collection Network (TCN) project. This role involves working with a large and diverse group of museum curators and technical partners to carry out a four year $2.5 million project funded by the National Science Foundation.

Michael has been working in small and large herbaria for over 15 years. This has included working as an Herbarium Assistant at the Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium (KHD) and serving as the Collections Manager at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Herbarium (RSA-POM). He has collected plants across most of the southeast and southwest United States and many parts of northern Mexico.

Most recently Michael worked on another large NSF funded project, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). He was responsible for planning, implementing and overseeing the analysis and deposition of all samples (biological, physical and chemical), tissues, and specimens collected as part of the field-based research of the NEON Observatory.

Michael holds a B.A. in Geography from the University of Denver and an M.S. in Biology from Appalachian State University. He also has a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science from Appalachian State University. While serving as an Adjunct Faculty member at Appalachian State he taught courses and laboratories in Plant Systematics, Geographic Information Science, Digital Image Processing and Geocomputation.

Michael has a strong interest in museum specimen and associated data curation. He maintains a strong interest in data analysis and innovative ways to improve the capture and mobilization of biodiversity information. He was a founding member of the Notes From Nature science team and currently serves as the head of the steering committee.

Herrick Brown (Data Manager)

Herrick currently serves as Data Manager for the SERNEC – Thematic Collection Network (TCN) project.  In this role, he ensures the integrity of herbarium specimen images and associated metadata.  He works closely with project partners and provides technical support at all stages of data development.

Herrick has been working with biodiversity databases for over 10 years. First as a Data Technician for the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and later as the collections database manager for the A. C. Moore Herbarium (USCH) at the University of South Carolina.  He is currently the Assistant Botanist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Heritage Trust Program and serves as the Assistant Curator at USCH.  In this capacity, he ensures a smooth segue of field-collected vouchers to herbarium-curated specimens.

Herrick has forged partnerships with colleagues in related disciplines and most recently was involved with the NEH funded project, “Plants and Planter: Henry William Ravenel and the Convergence of Science and Agriculture in the Nineteenth-Century South”.  This project marries the herbarium specimens and handwritten journals of the important 19th-century botanist/mycologist Henry William Ravenel in an online portal.  Herrick also serves as the General Secretary of the Consortium of South Carolina Herbaria and is a Board Member-at-Large for the South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council.

Herrick is currently pursuing his PhD in Biology from the University of South Carolina and already holds a B.A. and an M.S. in Biology from the same institution.

Herrick is interested in the use of digital technologies to enhance the research value and accessibility of natural history collections.  He is particularly concerned with expanding the roles that herbarium specimens and associated data play in related research areas and cross platform compatibility of biodiversity collections information.

Joseph McKenna (Research Assistant)        

Joe currently serves as a Research Assistant for the SERNEC – Thematic Collection Network (TCN) project.  This involves testing workflows and data infrastructure with student volunteers, communicating with member institutions and community partners, and maintaining the project website.

Joe is currently pursuing an M.S. in Biology from Appalachian State University and holds a B.S. in Biology from UNC Asheville. 

His interests lie in species boundaries, landscape genetics, and biodiversity informatics as a tool for both conservation and raising awareness of the value of natural history collections.