Committee Chair

Shaw, Joey

Committee Member

Richards, Sean; Barbosa, Jose


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Here we find and analyze herbarium specimens collected throughout the last 100 years from the greater Chattanooga area to future screen them for the presence and concentration of metals. Chattanooga was declared the most polluted city in America in 1969 from the years 1961-1965 due to unchecked industrial emissions. Factories, railroads, coal furnaces, and iron making were only a few of many industrial operations releasing metal particulates and toxicants into the atmosphere. Metals can be deposited atop plant surfaces or soil when they find a sink there. Living plants have been used to assess metal pollution concentrations, though assessing historical pollution concentrations with herbarium specimens has recently been shown to be a valuable tool to science as well. The aim of this study is to use online digital repositories (SERNEC portal link) of herbarium specimens to identify candidate specimens that may be used in the future to chronicle airborne metal concentrations in the greater Chattanooga area: Hamilton County, Tennessee (TN) as well as Walker, Dade, and Catoosa Counties, Georgia (GA). To be useful to a potential study of this kind, these specimens must meet the following parameters: there must be multiple specimens of each species from pre-, during, and post- 1960s; each specimen must have enough biological plant material to remove some without destroying the integrity of the specimen; and the species must be one with metal-accumulating properties or morphological characteristics that increase the chances of deposition upon the leaf surface.


I would like to thank Dr. Joey Shaw for advising me during my time at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He provided me with countless opportunities to expand my knowledge of the field I was interested in by having our lab attend conferences, the Wildflower Pilgrimage, field botany courses and the Highlands Biological Stations, and digitizing historical Tennessee Specimens at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Furthermore, he supported my decision to change my thesis project and helped me every step of the way to work on the project in a short amount of time. I would like to thank my committee, Dr. Sean Richards and Dr. Jose Barbosa, for seeing the potential in my project and offering me their valuable advice and encouragement. Specifically, I would like to further thank Dr. Richards for opening my eyes to the world of environmental chemistry and for providing the platform of this project along with Dr. Shaw. I would also like to thank Dr. Richards and Dr. Shaw for helping me through my head injury and ensuring my academic pursuits stayed on track while I healed and navigated the world of graduate school after my injury.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Botanical specimens; Digital libraries; Pollution--Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Botany; Chattanooga; herbarium specimens; metals; pollution

Document Type

Masters theses




xi, 144 leaves