The Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Endowment

Biographical Sketch

Excerpts from Los Angeles Times 2/5/02

  Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton, a pioneering female botanist who served as curator of botany for the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural history from 1929 to 1970, has died.  She was 95. Dr. Templeton, a Los Angeles resident, died of a heart attack and kidney failure Jan29 in a Glendale hospital.

  Dr. Templeton's botanical accomplishments ranged from discovering a rare plant on the El Segundo sand dunes in the 1930s to assembling botanical evidence from La Brea Tar Pits in the 1960s that proved that the climate of Southern California during the Pleistocene era was much cooler and wetter than previously believed.

 "She was a trailblazer for women scientists at a time when there were basically no women in science,"said Stella Coakley, head of the Botany and Plant Pathology Department at Oregon State University, where Dr. Templeton received her doctorate.

  Born in Newman Grove, Neb, Oct 23, 1906, Dr. Templeton moved to Los Angeles alone at the age of 16.  She stumbled into botany by chance.  After a variety of jobs that included working as a waitress and a secretary, she was sent by an employment agency to the home of a hobbyist who needed help classifying and mounting specimens in his extensive collection of dried plants.  From what had simply been a means to pay the rent, Dr. Templeton found her vocation.

  By 1928, she had learned enough about plants to become Assistant Botanist at the California Botanic Garden in Los Angeles.  A year later, she was named Curator of Botany at the County Museum of Natural History where she remained for 41 years.  Dr. Templeton earned her bachelor's degree in botany in 1941 and a master's degree in 1947 both from the University of Southern California.  She earned her doctorate in 1964 from Oregon State University, writing a thesis on the fruits and seeds of the Rancho La Brea Pleistocene deposits.

  While working as Curator of Botany at the County Museum of Natural History, Dr. Templeton served as an on-call forensic botanist for the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as being on call for the poison center.  After retiring from the museum in 1970, she founded the California Botanical Science Service, a private consulting business in Glendale, which she operated for about 20 years.

  Dr. Templeton is survived by her husband of 59 years, Chester Weiche, and a sister, Matie Till, of Corpus Christie, Texas.

The Endowments

Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton was a generous friend to the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. She made three separate gifts that will benefit our programs in perpetuity. In 1989, she established an endowment to provide support for graduate student research in systematics. Shortly thereafter, she created a second endowment to help support maintenance of our teaching greenhouse collection.

Her very generous gift in 1997 has made possible the creation and furnishing of the Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Conference Room, the expansion and furnishing of the Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Herbarium Preparation Room, and in 2002, the creation of the Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Imaging Room. The remainder of this gift was used to establish The Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Lectureship Endowment .

Students who have benefited from awards from this endowment include:

Justen Whittall

Teman Erhart

Brie-Anne McKernan

Beth Lawrence

Paul Severns

Jason Alexander

Brian Knaus

Stephen Meyers

Elizabeth Martin

The Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Annual Lectureship

Following Dr. Templeton's death in 2002, her husband Chester Weiche made an additional gift to the lecture fund. Interest from this fund will be used to sponsor an annual lecture in honor and memory of Dr. Templeton's contributions to botany and to Oregon State University.

The eighth Dr. Bonnie Templeton Lecture will be held on May 7, 2009.

Dr. Veronica S. Di Stilio
Department of Biology, University of Washington

Evolution of flower development in Thalictrum (Ranuculaceae)

The seventh Dr. Bonnie Templeton Lecture was held on May 15, 2008.

Dr. Sarah Hoot
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukie

In the Garden with Darwin: His Botanical Exploits

2009 marks the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his monumental work 'On the origin of Species'. Darwin 's role in laying the foundation of evolutionary biology is well known. Less appreciated are his contributions to the field of botany. Dr. Sara Hoot's lecture will include a short biographical history of Darwin , then feature his botanical work on orchids, phototropism, carnivorous plants, twining plants, turgor movements in sensitive plants, and more.  It will include video clips and demonstrations with live plants.

The sixth Dr. Bonnie Templeton Lecture was held on May17, 2007.

Dr. Michelle McMahon
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona

"Phylogenomic systematics and flower evolution in the legume family" 

Systematics and the study of biodiversity have benefited from the explosion of data-generating techniques employed by genomics. This talk will include results from research aimed at extracting as much data as possible from available sources and applying it to questions of phylogenetic relationships among Papilionoid legumes, a cosmopolitan group that contains many economically important plants (e.g., beans, peas, peanuts, soybeans). Methodological issues will be highlighted, as will floral evolution questions that have motivated the focus on papilionoids.

The fifth Dr. Bonnie Templeton Lecture was held on May 18, 2006

Dr. Kathleen Pryer
Department of Biology, Duke University

"The evolution and diversification of "seed-free" vascular plants"

Dr. Pryer's research focuses on understanding the evolutionary relationships of ancient land plants, especially ferns and horsetails, by integrating evidence from morphology, molecules (DNA sequence data from multiple genes), and the fossil record. She uses an explicit phylogenetic framework to examine the morphological evolution of various sporophytic and gametophytic characters within vascular plants, and to gain insight into the evolution of various life history traits and the body plans that typify vascular plants. A phylogenetic perspective also informs her molecular evolutionary studies that attempt to elucidate why remarkable rate heterogeneity in chloroplast genes are observed in land plant phylogeny.


The fourth Dr. Bonnie Templeton Lecture was held on May 5, 2005

Dr. Lynn Bohs
Department of Biology, University of Utah 

"Casting light on the nightshades: systematics and evolution in the tomato family" 

The Solanaceae, the nightshade or tomato family, encompasses over 2500 species distributed worldwide. It is one of the world's most economically important plant families and includes major crops such as the tomato, potato, eggplant, and chili pepper as well as lesser-known species cultivated as food plants and ornamentals. Paradoxically, many Solanaceae contain high levels of chemical compounds that cause them to be medicinally valuable, poisonous, or hallucinogenic; some examples include jimsonweed, tobacco, henbane, and belladonna. Over half the species in the family belong to the genus Solanum , a remarkably diverse group that includes the tomato, potato, and eggplant.

Dr. Bohs' research explores many questions in this family using techniques ranging from field work to molecular phylogenetic analyses. Her primary focus is at present is on the phylogeny, biodiversity, and evolution of the huge and economically important genus Solanum .


The third Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Lecture was held on May 13, 2004

Dr. Paul S. Manos
Department of Biology 
Duke University

"Acorns, Catkins and the Trees of Life"

The oak family will be highlighted from the perspective of its broader relationships within the angiosperms, including key aspects of reproductive trait variation and how that variation has shaped our current understanding of the family, in particular the origin of the genus Quercus. A new hypothesis for the origin of the oaks has been developed using DNA sequences, and its implications will be presented. Another major taxon in the family, Lithocarpus, will be introduced and research related to assessing landscape-level DNA variation across the geologically complex areas of SE Asia will be discussed in the context of the history of SE Asian rainforests.

The second Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Lecture was held on May 22, 2003.  

Dr. Peter Stevens
University of Missouri
Missouri Botanical Garden

"The End of All Things?  Flowering Plant Phylogenies and Names"

I focus on the intersection of phylogeny, morphological characters and naming; and the role that convention plays in these activities. I suggest we tend to reject convention when it is needed (e.g. in naming) and accept it when it is not (e.g. in thinking about character states, and so about evolution). Pattern that is of interest to ecologists and evolutionary biologists may become apparent only in taxonomically or 
geographically focused analyses, yet many of the methods we use look more broadly, and so we may miss what is of the widest interest. These 
problems affect us at all levels, from studies of angiosperm phylogeny to 
the delimitation of species in monographs.

The first Dr. Bonnie C. Templeton Lecture was delivered May 2, 2002

Dr. Sarah R. Grant

Department of Biology

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Genetic Control of Sex Determination in Dioecious Plants "

Genetic differences distinguish males and females in dioecious plant species but the mechanisms of sex determination are quite variable. However several diverse species have sex chromosomes that no longer recombine, like the sex chromosomes of animals. A well characterized example in plants is white campion . We and others have identified a number of genes that are located on the white campion male-specific Y chromosome. We have compared Y-linked genes with homologous sequences on other chromosomes in order to analyze the steps in the evolution of this genetically isolated Y chromosome. Most of our data indicates that the X and Y chromosomes are still very similar as if they have recently evolved from an autosome pair.