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'What Holds the Earth Together': Agnes Chase and American Agrostology

Pamela M. Henson
Journal of the History of Biology
Vol. 36, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 437-460
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4331826
Page Count: 24
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'What Holds the Earth Together': Agnes Chase and American Agrostology
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Abstract

Geison's model of a research school is applied to the case of Agnes Chase (1869-1963), agrostologist at the Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture, and curator, U.S. National Herbarium, Smithsonian Institution. Chase developed a geographically dispersed research school in systematic agrostology across the Americas in the first half of the twentieth century. Despite her gender-based lack of institutional power, Chase used her scientific expertise, mentoring skills, and relationships based on women's groups to develop a cohesive school of grass specialists focused on her research program to collect, observe, describe, identify, and classify the grasses of the Americas. Geison's model is extended to encompass geographically dispersed schools led by a non-university based mentor without institutional power.

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