Elsie Quarterman

28 Nov 1910
9 Jun 2014
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Elsie Quarterman (November 28, 1910 – June 9, 2014) was a prominent plant ecologist. She was a Professor Emerita at Vanderbilt University.

Quarterman was born on November 28, 1910 in Valdosta, Georgia USA.

She earned a B.A. from Georgia State Women’s College (now Valdosta State University) in 1932 and earned an M.A. in botany from Duke University in 1943.

Quarterman completed her Ph.D. at Duke University in 1949 with Henry J. Oosting. During her graduate work and afterward, she also collaborated extensively with Catherine Keever.

Quarterman is best known for her work on the ecology of Tennessee cedar glades.

These herb-dominated plant communities on the shallow soils of limestone outcrops are globally rare habitats and contain many endemic plant species.

She is also credited with rediscovering the native Tennessee coneflower, Echinacea tennesseensis, which was thought to be extinct, in 1969.

Conservation efforts for the coneflower were successful, and it was delisted as an endangered species in 2011.

She supervised seven doctoral students, including Stewart Ware, a plant ecologist at the College of William and Mary, and Carol C. Baskin and Jerry M. Baskin, professors at the University of Kentucky.

Throughout her career, Quarterman was also active in conservation.

She died on June 9, 2014, at the age of 103.

Quarterman became the first woman Department Chair at Vanderbilt when she chaired the Biology Department in 1964.

The Tennessee Academy of Science honored Quarterman with the 2003 Distinguished College/University Scientist Award.

The Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America gives an annual Quarterman-Keever Award to the best student poster in ecology.

The Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade, a 185-acre (0.75 km2) natural area that is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Percy Priest Reservoir and Wildlife Management Area near La Vergne, Tennessee, is named in her honor.

In 2008, an annual spring wildflower event at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, celebrated annually for over 30 years, was renamed the Elsie Quarterman Wildflower Weekend.

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