Emma Lucy Braun: Pioneer Plant Ecologist

By:  Iman Said, ARB Intern, 2014-2015

The University of Cincinnati has had many incredible individuals pass through its doors. There have been outstanding athletes, such as Oscar Robertson and Ron Bonham, and incredible researchers such as Albert Sabin. One such researcher was E. Lucy Braun, who created a research program in vascular plant floristics focusing on deciduous forests.

Lucy BraunE. Lucy Braun was born in Cincinnati in 1889. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1914 with a Ph.D in botany and went on to found the Wildflower Preservation Society of North America in 1917. The Society is still well and thriving today and hosts several different events including an annual Hardy Souls’ Hike at Mt. Airy Forest and lectures on various fungal infections and wild orchids. That same year, she began teaching botany at her alma mater, growing through the University to become a professor of plant ecology in 1946. In addition, she became the first female president of the Ohio Academy of Science.

As a researcher with the University, Braun contributed to the Naturalist’s Guide to the Americas and the Wild Flower. She also published five articles and books, including her most influential work Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America, published in 1950. The book discussed both the current condition of the biome and its development after the end of the Ice Age and has been recognized for its classification of forest regions and its map depicting an ‘original’ forest pattern.

As a researcher, Braun enjoyed great renown, receiving the Mary Soper Pope medal in botany in 1952. She received an honorary D.Sc. from the University of Cincinnati and was the first woman to be named to the Ohio Conservation Hall of fame, shortly before her death in 1971.

The image of Braun shown here is one in a broad collection of historic UC photographs that have been digitized and for which the metadata is now being prepared.  For more information about this project or about UC history, contact the Archives & Rare Books Library at 513.556.1959, by email at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, or find us on the web at http://www.libraries.uc.edu/arb.html.  You can also “Like” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati where we post a variety of things about our holdings and about the world of archives, libraries, reading, and rare books.