Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Jesse Elbert “Bert” O’Connell
(?1926 – 1 January 2011)
Information compiled January 2011
by Carol Ann McCormick,
Assistant Curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium.
North Carolina State University Herbarium (NCSC)
has catalogued about 60 specimens collected by Bert O’Connell. As both NCSC and NCU continue to database
their collections, no doubt more specimens collected by Dr. O’Connell will be
found. All the specimens catalogued so
far were collected between 1951 and 1954.
While all are from North Carolina, they were collected across the
entire state, with Dare, Jackson, Macon, Montgomery, Moore, Transylvania and
Wake Counties being most frequently represented. The Lake Toxaway
(Transylvania Co.) and Tuckaseegee (Jackson Co.)
regions were favorite collecting spots.
A frequent co-collector of O’Connell’s was Robert K. Godfrey, who earned his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1952, and
who went on to become a well-known figure in botany of the southeastern
United States at Florida State University.
Elbert “Bert” O’Connell, the son of E. Floyd and Blonza
A. O’Connell, graduated from Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro, NC in
1943. He attended Wake Forest
University and earned a bachelor of science degree and a master of science
degree in 1948 and 1949, respectively.
During World War II he served as a hospital corpsman in the United
was head of the science department at Chowan College in 1949, then joined the botany department at North Carolina State
University in 1950. He earned his
doctorate degree in botany from the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill in 1955 under the direction of Dr. Joseph Edison Adams. The title of
O’Connell’s Ph.D. thesis was “Systematic studies in Sisyrinchium.”
briefly joined the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of
Idaho, but by 1959 had become a staff member of the National Science
Foundation in Washington, D.C. In the
1960’s he was in the NSF’s Tokyo, Japan office and worked to promote
scientific education and research projects between Japanese and American
scientists. In 1977 he became the head
of the Latin America & Pacific Section of the National Science
Foundation. He retired from NSF in
1983 and continued to live in the Washington, D.C. area. In 199 O’Connell was honored by the Embassy
of Japan on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Education for fostering
scientific cooperation between Japan and the United States.
O’Connell died on 1 January 2011 and was buried in Buffalo Presbyterian Cemetery
in Sanford, North Carolina on 9 January 2011.
He is survived by brother, Dr. Larry O’Connell
of Sanford, NC, and sister, Gwendolyn Mitchell of Burlington, NC. Bert O’Connell’s family requested that
memorials be sent to the University of North Carolina Herbarium. Please contact Charlotte Jones-Roe,
Associate Director for Development, North Carolina Botanical Garden
(jonesroeATSIGNunc.edu or 919-962-9458) to make a donation in Bert’s memory.
The UNC Herbarium would appreciate
receiving a photograph of
Bert O’Connell. Please contact Carol Ann McCormick, Assistant Curator, by
email mccormickATSIGNunc.edu or by phone at (919) 962-6931.
Curriculum North Carolina UNC
In Ecology Botanical Garden Biology Department
University of North Carolina
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930
Last Updated: 11 January 2011