James (“Jim”) L. Reveal
Jim Reveal was born in Reno, NV in March of 1941. After only a few months in Nevada, this family moved to coastal California where his father, Jack, was assigned the task of heading the war effort in the use of redwood timber. After the Second World War, the family moved to the Shasta National Forest, and then moved again, in 1948, to the Stanislaus National Forest and the tiny Sierra Nevada town of Pinecrest on the Sonora Pass Highway where his father was a district ranger. He attended a one-room school with the same teacher from 1950 until 1955 and then entered Sonora Union High School some thirty miles away; thus, his school day last from seven in the morning until five in the afternoon, the bus ride being over an hour each way. Establishment of the Dodge Ridge ski resort in the early 1950s meant that he and his brother, Jon, were required to ski as their mother, Arlene, was the accountant for the resort. Likewise, starting in 1950 Jim began to work for a high Sierra packer and spent the decade working around horses and guiding pack trips into the Emigrant Basin.
Graduation from high school in the spring of 1959 saw him entering college in the fall, having spent the summer working for the Forest Service on the Toiyabe National Forest. At Utah State University he majored in forestry with an emphasis on fire suppression. That lasted for two years where he changed his major to botany and began work on Eriogonum under the mentorship of Arthur H. Holmgren. Thanks to the support of John Thomas Howell of the California Academy of Science, Arthur Cronquist of the New York Botanical Garden, and George J. Goodman of the University of Oklahoma, he began a revision of Eriogonum, taking time out to prepare a checklist of the Intermountain Flora as a senior thesis in 1963.
After earning his master’s degree at Utah State in 1965, Jim went to Brigham Young University where he worked with Stanley L. Welsh (botany) and LeRoy R. Hafen (western American history) on a doctoral degree. Importantly he traveled throughout the West with Noel Holmgren collecting plants for the Intermountain Flora project and their doctoral studies. The fall semester of 1966-1967 was spent on a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which allowed him to study numerous critical specimens of Eriogonum. In 1968 he spent the summer on the Nevada Test Site working with Janice C. Beatley, an ecologist, on the flora of that area. As a result, he found several new species confined to that part of Nevada.
Following graduation in 1969, Jim accepted an assistant professor position at the University of Maryland, where he was able to concentrate on the flora of the Intermountain West and Eriogonum and its near relatives. Funding by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies allowed him to devote his first ten years at Maryland on these projects. A change in deans forced him to concentrate on the flora of Maryland. During the next ten years he traveled mainly to England studying the colonial flora of Maryland (1680-1725) culminating, in 1989-1990, in a year and half stay at The Natural History Museum in London concentrating on the American plants named by Carl Linnaeus (1753-1778) and beginning a detailed study of vascular plant family nomenclature.
Another change of deans allowed Jim to return to his work on the Intermountain Flora and Eriogonum, and to begin a series of studies on related genera. His final decade at Maryland also allowed him to concentrate on the history of scientific (especially botanical) explorations and discoveries in the West and to examine in detail the scientific names applied to plant groups above the rank of genus. After thirty years at Maryland he retired and Jim and his wife, Rose Broome, moved to Montrose, Colorado, where they continued to work on botany.
From 1999 until 2007 Jim concentrated on the eriogonoid members of the knotweed family, Polygonaceae. He and Rose traveled widely, collecting throughout the West, and even found a number of new species in western Colorado. From 2003 to 2005 they also visited much of the Pacific Northwest and the Great Plains visiting sites where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark collected plants from 1804-1806, thanks to an American Treasurers grant to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
In 2007, Jim returned to academia, accepting an adjunct professorship at Cornell University. There he continues to work on the eriogonoid genera, botanical nomenclature, history, and to study other genera, notably Dodecatheon (shooting star), and Potentilla (cinquefoil) and related genera. He is also teaching and advising graduate students. A treatment of Eriogonum and allied genera found in North America north of Mexico was published in 2005, following a 2004 summary of the nomenclature. The last volume of the Intermountain Flora will be finished in 2010 and will included a treatment of Polygonaceae for that part of the West. Altogether, Jim has published some 450 scientific papers and books, and nearly 60 works for the world-wide-web. A summary of his professional career may be seen at http://www.plantsystematics.org/reveal/pbio/WWW/cvjlr.html.