Dr. Thomas Wentworth, Professor of Plant Biology at the North Carolina State University, received the Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award on 4 April 2014 at the annual meeting of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society (SABS), held in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This annual award honors the memory of Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew’s untiring and unselfish service to SABS, professional botanists, students, and the public. The highest honor given by the Society, this award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in professional and public service that advances our knowledge of the world of plants and their scientific, cultural, and aesthetic values. Dr. Wentworth fits right into the ideals that Betty set. He has years of dedicated service in teaching and professional service toward the betterment of botany and ecology of the southeastern United States.
‘‘Tom’’ has more than 30 years of classroom teaching experience. He has taught numerous courses, including his most well-known ecology and plant community ecology courses at North Carolina State University and at Highlands Biological Station. He has also developed a course in Multivariate Analysis of Community Data. Tom has mentored over 35 graduate students and numerous undergraduate students. Many students, in their supporting letters, write of his enthusiasm and passion for teaching. In addition, Tom has received numerous awards at North Carolina State University, including serving as a Senior Ethics Fellow, and his receipt of the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Graduate Instructor Award, and Outstanding Teacher Award.
Tom’s research has spanned many years. His publications range from high profile to important regional journals in plant ecology on diverse topics, including classification, community structure, autecological response, fire ecology, hydrology, soil science, restoration, and even estuarine ecology. Tom is one of the founding scientists for the Carolina Vegetation Survey, a collaborative project with other ecologists to study the natural vegetation of the Carolinas, which has become one of his most well-known research endeavors. The project has been in progress for over 25 years and has resulted in delineation of many plant communities in the Carolinas. Project sites have ranged from the mountains to the coastal plain. As a result, the research has produced an exhaustive and comprehensive dataset that has greatly enhanced our understanding of the flora and natural communities of the Carolinas, and has set a standard for data collection that is widely used.
Recently, Tom Wentworth and Stephanie Jeffries have been working on a book that shares their knowledge of the southern mountains with an even broader audience. Titled Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, the book will take readers on 30 guided hikes around Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, teaching them to see natural communities through an ecological lens. The book will be published this fall by the University of North Carolina Press as part of the Southern Gateway Guides.
Dr. Wentworth has a special dedication to Highlands Biological Station where he has taught his course Forest Ecosystems of the Southern Appalachians for many years. In addition, he has conducted research in the Highlands area. Tom has served as the station’s chair of the Board of Directors and the Board of Scientific Advisors.
Tom’s record of service to scientific organizations also is exemplary. He is Past President (2010– 2011) of the Association of Southeastern Biologists. He has served as Chair and Member of the Odum Award Committee of the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America, and as Member of the Board of Directors for the Organization for Tropical Studies. For many years he served as Business Manager of the North American Section of the International Association for Vegetation Science. Both the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust have recognized his distinguished work in ecology and botany.
In summary, Tom’s long and distinguished record of service to science, education, and to the public are worthy of recognition by way of the SABS’ highest honor—the Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award. —Charles N. Horn, Professor of Biology, Newberry College