Scientific MorphBank to be expanded

October 13, 2005

A Florida State University researcher is leading an effort to expand MorphBank -- a method for scientists to store, share and study plant or animal images.

Fredrik Ronquist, a professor in FSU's School of Computational Sciences, is one of the founders of MorphBank, which contains thousands of high-resolution photographs and other images of plant and animal specimens.

Ronquist is leading an interdisciplinary team of FSU scientists to expand the Web-based bank, thanks to a $2.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

"It used to be that there was a limited body of knowledge of plant and animal specimens," Ronquist said. "Now, our body of knowledge is so vast, we need the help of machines."

"We're hoping to achieve a change in the way scientists work when they do research," Ronquist said. "We need to convince scientists that this is a better way of working with their material and presenting their research."

Although only scientists will be able to deposit, retrieve or comment, the system may be viewed by anyone.

The name of the database refers to the term morphology, which is the study of the shape and structure of plants and animals.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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