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Johansen awarded $150,000 to research imperiled fishes.

 The southeastern U.S. is home to an incredible array of species and is recognized as an aquatic biodiversity hotspot. Unfortunately, human activities that degrade aquatic environments have led to the loss or reduction of species across this diverse region. Dr. Rebecca Blanton Johansen was recently awarded an $84,000 grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to study four imperiled fishes, including two darter and two madtom catfish species found exclusively or primarily in Tennessee. She will work with graduate students to assess the current conservation status of each species, the human-mediated threats to their habitat, and the in-stream habitat requirements of each. The focal species are under review for federal listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and results of this work will provide the foundational data for making informed listing decisions and will highlight needed conservation actions. Johansen was also awarded a $67,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife services. Dr. Johansen, in collaboration with Dr. Mollie Cashner (Center of Excellence for Field Biology and Dept. of Biology, APSU), will evaluate population-level genetic diversity and patterns of gene flow in the imperiled Kentucky Arrow Darter. This species occurs in eastern Kentucky and has been heavily impacted by coal mining in the region, which in combination with other activities, has led to the loss of populations throughout its range.  Because of its small native range, recent declines, and ongoing threats to its habitat, the Kentucky Arrow Darter will soon be listed as Federally Endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act.  Assessment of genetic diversity in the species will serve as foundational information for successful recovery and conservation activities including propagation and re-establishment of extirpated populations. Dr. Johansen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, Principal Investigator in the Center of Excellence for Field Biology, and Curator of Fishes for the David Snyder Vertebrate Museum.

Seaside Sparrow

Dr. Stefan Woltmann, Assistant Professor of Biology, awarded grant to study Seaside Sparrows.

Between April 20th and July 15, 2010, several million barrels of crude oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico when BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. Most of southeastern Louisiana's coastal marshes were impacted by the spill. APSU's Dr. Stefan Woltmann, along with colleagues at Louisiana State University, began studying effects of the oil spill on marsh birds in mid-2011, focusing their efforts on Seaside Sparrows (Ammodramus maritimus). By the spring of 2012, much of the oil damage to marshes was no longer visually obvious. However, ongoing work suggests that effects of the oil spill continue to influence the ecology of Seaside Sparrows. For example, population densities and nest success rates appear to be lower in areas of the marsh that were heavily oiled. With his recent grant award, Dr. Woltmann will study population genetic characteristics of Seaside Sparrows across the Gulf of Mexico in order to better understand how and why some populations may be more vulnerable to natural and man-made disturbances. For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Stefan Woltmann at

Thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Greater Nashville Affiliate, the Austin Peay State University School of Nursing will partner with the Montgomery County Health Department to begin a breast health program. Dr. Patty Orr, director of the School of Nursing and associate professor, wrote the grant with Joey Smith, director of the county health department. The breast health program will include assessment, education and mammogram screening for the underserved population in Montgomery County. “The goal is to identify any cancer early when it can be treated successfully,” Orr said. APSU’s grant funding is among the $437,000 in total grants awarded by the Nashville Komen affiliate to local nonprofits to assist with education, screenings and treatment for breast cancer. Other agencies funded included the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services, Meharry Medical College and the Tennessee Department of Health, among others. For more information, contact Orr by email at

Dr. Bob Shelton, Austin Peay State University associate professor of chemistry, has an idea for an extremely efficient automobile. He’d like to see a vehicle powered by water and sunlight rather than gasoline. “In some ways, that’s the way plants work,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to try to mimic with our photocatalytic hydrogen producers that mimic the reaction of the oxygen-evolving center in plants." Shelton has partnered with researchers from the University of Memphis to investigate the potential of artificially replicating the process of photosynthesis to harvest light energy. If the project succeeds, it could one day lead to vehicles equipped with a new type of solar panels and hidden containers of water instead of fuel tanks. Ultimately, these vehicles would be powered by hydrogen. “Water is a great source for hydrogen fuel,” Shelton said. “Every molecule of water contains the same amount of hydrogen as a molecule of hydrogen gas – and water is safer to carry around and store than hydrogen gas.” Shelton’s project proposal recently impressed officials with the Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research and Education (TN-SCORE) program, and they awarded him and his Memphis colleagues a Research Opportunity Award of $20,000 to continue their work.  TN-SCORE is network of researchers and both academic and industrial institutions funded by a more than $20 million National Science Foundation RII Track 1 Research Infrastructure award. “These awards are highly competitive, and your selection in this highly esteemed group deserves congratulations,” Dr. John Hopkins, TN-SCORE program director, said in a letter to Shelton. The project to achieve artificial photosynthesis by using organometallic catalysts will begin this summer with Shelton and his Memphis colleagues modeling on computers how these reactions might work. “Once we have an idea of how this works, what we can do is easily go in and modify everything that is around the metal and see if we can tune, improve and show what works and what doesn’t work before we even go into the lab,” he said. “It speeds up the experimental time. Instead of searching hundreds or thousands of modifications, we can narrow it down to five or six.” Shelton will travel to Memphis and work at APSU on the project. He also plans to involve APSU students in this research. “Hopefully, we’ll have a few (APSU) undergrads as well participating in the summer research that will last well into the next academic year,” he said. “This is one of the hot topics in chemistry, all these alternative energy sources and hydrogen fuel conversion. We have a lot of students trying to get involved in this project.” For more information on this project, contact Shelton at

APSU awarded Tennessee Department of Health grant to promote health, fitness

Dr. Tim Leszczak, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, in collaboration with Dr. Patty Orr in the School of Nursing, The Food Initiative, the Clarksville-Montgomery County Coordinated School Health Program, and the Montgomery County Department of Health was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Health “Eat Well, Play More Tennessee” initiative. The purpose of the grant is to develop a sustainable program that provides opportunity for physical activity to underserved populations in the surrounding area. Grant funds will be used to develop walking trails on the APSU campus, as well as provide nutritional workshops to community members, faculty, staff and students on campus. The money will also be used to provide walking maps which will be distributed to all departments, and develop virtual walking trails so participants can view the trails before they start physical activity.  There will be three trails marked with trail heads and directional arrows that will be .5, 1.0 and 1.5 miles long.  For further information, contact Tim Leszczak at 931-221-6112 or email

APSU receives $588,000 NSF grant to award scholarships for military and community college students

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Three Austin Peay State University professors are on the lookout for community college students, active duty military personnel, veterans and dependents interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines. That’s because the National Science Foundation is awarding them more than $500,000 over the next five years to offer scholarships for qualified students in those areas. The project, titled "Increasing the Number of Regional Community College Graduates and Active Duty Military Personnel, Veterans and Dependents Enrolling in and Completing a STEM Baccalaureate Degree," will begin awarding scholarships this fall under the direction of Dr. Cindy L. Taylor, professor of biology, Dr. Karen Meisch, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics and statistics. Scholarships are available for the above-mentioned individuals who have a 3.0 GPA and can demonstrate financial need. “We’re working with Columbia State, Nashville State and Volunteer State Community College, and also with the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell,” Taylor said. “Students can apply and receive a NSF S-STEM Scholarship for their sophomore year at the community college or at Fort Campbell. That would allow them to complete an Associate of Science degree. Then they would come to Austin Peay. That’s potentially three years of support.” Eligible applicants must major in either biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics or physics at APSU. The hope is that the scholarships will increase the number of students from regional community colleges and military backgrounds to come to APSU, in addition to increasing the number of STEM graduates in the community. “These individuals might not know what the options are, or they might not think it’s a possibility for them,” Rayburn said. “But if there’s some money that makes it feasible for them to continue, that opens some doors. This helps some good students who might encounter difficulties otherwise, financially.” The NSF grant will also provide money for a bridge program that will help these students transition from community colleges and the military to APSU. The program will bring these students together on campus each summer, and also host special events throughout the year. “It can be challenging for transfer students to feel like they’re part of a community,” Meisch said. “The idea of this bridge program is to give them a cohort, give them a community that they’re all part of. It will give them a way to contact each other and work on some basic study skills and say, ‘hey, we’re all in this boat together. What can we do to be successful?’” The professors anticipate awarding about 15 scholarships this academic year, with the awards ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 per student, depending on individual demonstrated financial need. For more information on the scholarships, such as eligibility and how to apply, visit the program’s website, Photo cutline: Dr. Karen Meisch, associate professor of biology, Dr. Cindy L. Taylor, professor of biology, and Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, were recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to offer scholarships to students looking to study STEM subjects. (Photo by Beth Liggett/APSU Staff)

Austin Peay State University has received a grant of more than $1.78 million to build safe rooms in the basements of the new residence halls now under construction on Drane Street. Of the total funds awarded, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contributed more than $1.5 million, supported with an additional $250,000 from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). APSU matched an additional $250,000 toward the $2 million project. The safe rooms are designed to protect students from the threats of inclement weather, such as strong winds and tornados. "Emergency preparedness is more important than ever," said Jim Bassham, director of TEMA. "APSU is taking the lead in making its campus safer and we hope more organizations follow its example." Al Westerman, director of facilities planning and projects at APSU, said the three safe rooms will hold a maximum of 1,400 students. “These safe rooms will provide greater safety for our students when we are faced with tornados and high winds,” he said. The safe rooms will be built to FEMA standards and to withstand winds up to 250 mph, according to the award letter from the TEMA.


The Austin Peay Campus Police Department recently was awarded $5000 from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. The Governor’s Highway Safety Office provides grants to programs which are designed to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, and related economic losses resulting from traffic crashes on Tennessee’s roadways. It helps with programs in the following areas: alcohol countermeasures, youth alcohol and traffic safety, occupant protection (seatbelt and child passenger safety), police traffic services,traffic records,EMS,safe communities, pedestrian safety, pupil transportation, roadway safety, and motorcycle safety. Sgt. Georganna Genthner wrote the grant and has been with the Austin Peay State University Campus Police since 2008.



Clarksville-Montgomery County E-911 Emergency Communications Center recently awarded a $37,000 contract to the Austin Peay State University (APSU) GIS Center to bring the GIS data used by the dispatch center into National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and Tennessee Information for Public Safety (TIPS) Standards. This project is in preparation for the deployment of the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system that will utilize Emergency Service Number zones (ESN Zones). Structure point and center line road GIS data is used for routing emergency responders when a 911 call is received at the dispatch center to identify the location of the call. Dispatchers use the ESN Zones to ensure the correct and most relevant emergency service provider is sent to the caller’s location. The data will be part of a state-wide seamless GIS data coverage for the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. For more information, please contact the APSU GIS Center via email at

Lebkuecher, Jeff

Dr. Jeff Lebkuecher, Professor of Biology, was awarded a $78,800 contract from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to study the impacts of water pollution on algae and other microscopic organisms. The objectives of the project include: (1) develop standardized methods for state researchers to evaluate the impacts of pollution in Tennessee rivers, (2) assess the effects of water pollution in the Red River Watershed, and (3) engage APSU biology students in research to provide training and experience with biological monitoring. Biological monitoring is an essential method to characterize and quantify the influences of pollution because chemical analyses do not reveal impacts on ecological integrity. The research will give APSU students the opportunity to learn how to assess the influences of pollutants on aquatic organisms and develop watershed management plans to improve the health of aquatic environments.


The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Austin Peay State University a $1.8 million grant to continue funding the successful Educational Opportunity Center (EOC). The EOC received funding for five years (2011 – 2016) for $373,614 per grant year. The EOC funding falls under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and is part of the TRiO Programs. The program is designed to assist low-income adults in entering college by helping them to overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to higher education. Two-thirds of the adults served in the program must come from low-income families, where neither parent graduated from college. The grant received a perfect score of 117 out of 117 possible points. Of significance, were the full bonus points received for the competitive priority in addressing the needs of the military-connected students, veterans, active duty, and spouses of active-duty service members. The EOC at Austin Peay has been in existence since 1988, serving adult residents of Montgomery, Stewart, and Christian Counties. With this award, EOC now serves Houston County. During the past 23 years, EOC has provided educational assistance, financial aid, and career information to over 34,500 adults who have wished to pursue further education after high school. The program has collaborated with numerous community agencies and organizations in order to fulfill its mission of assisting adults who wish to pursue higher education in the area. For more information, contact John Johnson, EOC Director.

Dr. Justin Oelgoetz, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy was recently awarded a $25,000 grant to computationally model non-precious catalysts by the TNSCORE program, a statewide network funded by National Science Foundation $20 million EpSCORE Track I Grant. This grant was in the form of one of the first batch of three Research Opportunity Awards, designed to stimulate collaboration between primarily undergraduate institutions and research institutions. This work is part of the batteries and energy storage thrust (Thrust 2), headed by Dr. Tom Zawodzinski in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.  Dr. Oelgoetz has been modeling the spectra of various proposed compounds and structures as an aide in determining the detailed structure and properties of currently synthesized and tested compounds.  His work will feed back into the work of groups developing non-precious catalysts with the intention of increasing their efficiency.  Eventually electrodes using these these non-precious catalysts could replace much more expensive platinum based electrodes. This would result in significantly cheaper fuel cells, making them more cost effective for consumer applications such as cars as well as for large scale power generation.  For more information on the TNSCORE program see

The Felix G. Woodward Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries in the U.S. to host a traveling panel exhibition created and funded by the National Constitution Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Library Association.  Using the U.S. Constitution as its cohesive thread, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” offers a fresh and innovative perspective on the Civil War that brings into focus the constitutional crises at the heart of this great conflict.  The exhibition identifies three crises—the secession of the Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties—and explores how Lincoln sought to meet these political and constitutional challenges. The exhibition will tour throughout the United States from September 2011 through May 2015, and each library will host the exhibition for a period of six weeks. Each site will host public humanities programs related to the exhibition and will be awarded a grant of $750 to provide a reception, purchase marketing materials, etc.  APSU faculty members from the Departments of History and Philosophy, Political Science, Languages and Literature, Music, and Theatre and Dance will participate as program presenters.  The program is co-sponsored by the Felix G. Woodward Library and the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center.

Dr. Carol Baskauf, Professor of Biology, was recently awarded a $10,000 contract from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to study the population genetics of a federally endangered plant species (Braun’s rock-cress) using microsatellites.  She has been able to pursue these investigations as part of an APSU awarded faculty development leave during which she was working with new molecular methods for use in future research projects.  Braun’s rock-cress is a rare plant that is endemic to Tennessee and Kentucky, being found in only a few sites in middle Tennessee and in north-central Kentucky.  Previous TDEC funded research carried out by Dr. Baskauf’s graduate student, Nacole Jinks, had indicated that this species was very unusual in having almost no genetic variability at allozyme genes.  Because microsatellites tend to be much more variable genetic markers than allozymes, the use of microsatellites in the current study will provide better resolution of the genetic variability and population genetic structure for this rare plant – information that can aid in conservation management plans for the species.  Preliminary results using microsatellites and chloroplast genetic data indicate that Tennessee populations are genetically differentiated from Kentucky populations, and that even populations within Tennessee have genetic differences at microsatellite markers.


Gov. Bill Haslam (from left), APSU Provost Dr. Tristan Denley, Dr. Richard Rhoda (Executive director of Tennessee Higher Education Commission), and Stan Jones (President of Complete College America) announce Tennessee as the recipient of a $1 million Complete Innovation Challenge grant July 25 in Nashville. Austin Peay State University will be the key leader in Tennessee to help other colleges and universities with a nationwide challenge to impact degree completion in higher education with the help of a $1 million Completion Innovation Challenge grant. In July 2010, the National Governors Association adopted Complete College America’s metrics as part of its Complete to Compete initiative. All 50 states competed for $1 million grants to fuel reform in college completion. Gov. Bill Haslam formally announced July 25 that Tennessee is one of 10 states to receive the $1 million, 18-month implementation grant funded by Complete College America with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Grants were awarded to states that produced the best plans to develop and deploy innovative, statewide strategies designed to increase college completion. One of the centerpieces of Tennessee’s grant proposal was a new initiative introduced at APSU in April 2011. Dr. Tristan Denley, APSU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, developed a Course Recommendation System that helps pair students with courses that best their talents and programs of study. Using what has come to be known as the Netflix Effect, the system provides each student with personalized recommendations based on their academic transcript. Since its debut, the tool has gained national attention in higher education circles because of its abilities to help students stay on track to graduation. With the support of the grant, Denley will lead a team that will work to further refine the innovation. He also will work with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to develop the system so that it can be deployed statewide to help boost the state’s higher education graduation rates among community colleges and four-year institutions.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has announced that Dr. Ann Assad, Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Dr. Lauren Wells, Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, have been awarded $138,202 to conduct a STEM Professional Development Project through First to the Top. The goal of their program, Momentum: Building Capacity for Change through Connections, is to increase student achievement in mathematics by increasing elementary teachers’ capacity to teach mathematics in a STEM-centered environment. In daylong workshops teachers will solve problems, plan for teaching, and share student work.  Project staff will provide online support as well as online sessions targeted at specific content. Participants will be provided with extensive materials to support their own learning as well as their classroom teaching and will attend a weeklong academy in June 2012. Both content and pedagogy will be addressed in the workshop, and STEM activities will be integrated throughout. Children’s literature will provide the catalyst for engaging the participants in problem solving. Support will continue throughout the fall of 2012.

Dr. Linda A. Sitton, Director for the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA) grant housed at APSU, was awarded $325,055 for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The APSU-TECTA site is one of nine sites in the state and pays tuition for students seeking the state and national credentials, and degrees in early childhood. Eligible students must be employed in licensed child care facilities in Benton, Dickson, Henry, Houston, Humphries, Montgomery, Robertson, or Stewart counties. TECTA represents the first statewide early childhood training and professional recognition system in the nation administered by higher education to include orientation training through advanced degree programs. The TECTA statewide training system is based upon the belief that early childhood education personnel need professional knowledge and skills to provide appropriate care for young children. The primary goal is improving the quality of early childhood education by providing articulated preparation programs. TECTA classes involve child care providers, higher education, professional associations, state agencies, the business community, and parents.


Dr. Matthew Kenney, Director of the Presidents Emerging Leaders Program, Marissa Chandler, Director of TRiO Student Support Services, Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran, Coordinator of International Education, and Alexandra Howard, Assistant Director for Student Life & Leadership, were recently awarded a TBR Access & Diversity Grant in the amount of $71,500.  Their proposal, entitled “APSU Goes Global,” will enable different groups of Austin Peay students to participate in an innovative alternative spring break trip over each of the next three academic years. Their long-term goal is for this project to extend beyond the initial grant period.  Participating students will enroll in a special course in the spring semester that will focus on leadership and development issues. This course will have an associated service-learning component that will require students to complete one or more service projects in a foreign country during spring break. In addition, APSU will provide study-abroad scholarships to juniors in the President’s Emerging Leaders Program. It is expected that 10 students will participate in “APSU Goes Global” in the spring of 2012, 12 in the spring of 2013, and 15 in the spring of 2014.  This exciting program will combine service and scholarship in an international context that would otherwise be inaccessible to students because of cost and time constraints. An anticipated benefits of this program will be higher retention and graduation rates for participating students.

Dr. Christopher Gentry, Asst. Prof. of Geography in the Department of Geosciences and colleagues from ISU, UT, and Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research were recently awarded a $275,000 grant from the Geography and Spatial Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation. This collaborative research effort, entitled “An International Professional-Development Workshop in Dendrochronology: North American Dendroecological Fieldweek (NADEF)”, will help to continue a summer educational field course for students, scientists, and professionals interested in tree-ring analysis through 2015. The North American Dendroecological Fieldweek is a 9-day long, intensive learning experience that provides field and laboratory experience to novice, intermediate, and advanced dendrochronologists (scientists who uses tree rings to examine the natural and anthropogenic environments). During each fieldweek a wide range of topics are examined (climate, fire history, successional dynamics, insect outbreaks, etc.) under the direction of group leaders which are among the top scientists in the field. Each year the NADEF is held in a different location throughout the United States and has also been held in Canada and Mexico. Dr. Gentry is the director of the Biogeography, Environment, and Tree-ring Laboratory (BETR Lab) at APSU. He currently has students working on a funded project to examine the effect of thinning on radial growth of ponderosa pine at Mount Rushmore National Monument. For more information on specific research projects or the BETR Lab, visit

Mike Wilson (GIS Center)The GIS Center at Austin Peay State University was recently awarded a contract of over $300,000 from SERRI, the Southeast Region Research Initiative. SERRI is a Homeland Security program designed to assist local and regional leaders in developing the tools required to mitigate damage. The program, managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will work with students, professors, and members of the GIS Center. They will be collaborating on the Disaster Management and Recovery Kit project, or DMARK, a new application for mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. This application has the capacity to revolutionize disaster mitigation efforts. Lab tested in April 2010, DMARK underwent a practical application a month later during the 2010 flood. Montgomery County officials were able to collect initial damage assessments and get the information tabulated by the time others were able to start filing traditional damage assessments. Mike Wilson, GIS Director, will be specifically looking to streamline existing uses for DMARK as well as expanding the capabilities of the software in even more directions. The updated application is being investigated for use by the Department of Homeland Security, and is hoped to be useful in expediting damage mitigation efforts. The project will provide opportunities to train students in programming and establish relationships with both local and federal agencies, and upon conclusion, GIS Center will be participating in multiple field tests.

Dr. Dwayne Estes, Associate Professor in the Center of Excellence for Field Biology, was recently awarded two contracts totaling over $275,000 from URS Corporation (Austin, Texas), a subcontractor for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Estes, along with Dr. Joey Shaw (UT-Chattanooga) and colleagues from UT Knoxville, will conduct an intensive botanical survey in the Ocoee River Gorge, Polk County, Tennessee. During the study, they will survey plant communities, search for and monitor populations of threatened and endangered plant species, and conduct a floristic inventory of the Ocoee Gorge, an area that may harbor as many as 1,200 plant species. With the assistance of APSU GIS Center director Mike Wilson and his staff, they will map the finds into a GIS database.  Their findings will be used in the preparation of an environmental impact study which will assess potential impacts to the vegetation of the gorge from planned improvements to US Highway 64 or development of alternative highway corridors just north of the gorge. Estes, along with graduate and undergraduate students, will work closely with officials from the US Forest Service (Cherokee National Forest), US Fish and Wildlife Service, TN Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Valley Authority, and TDOT. This project will provide an extraordinary opportunity to train students in field botany and ecology techniques and will help them to establish important relationships with state and federal agencies. At the conclusion of this project, the team will present their findings at the 2011 Tennessee Academy of Science annual meeting and at the 2012 Association of Southeastern Biologists Conference. They plan to publish their findings in Castanea, the Journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.