The Menk Award Goes to “Muddy Boots” Biologist

June 1, 2005

Mary Baldwin University’s own “muddy boots” biologist, Dr. Eric N. Jones, will spend Fall semester trekking through forests and fields of the Shenandoah Valley taking pictures and documenting wildflowers of Virginia. For the past 18 years he’s been photographing colorful blooms with exotic names:Asclepias exaltata,Echium vulgare,Kalmia latifolia,Daucus carota, and more.

His Fall sabbatical is being funded by the 2005-06 Karl F. and Patricia H. Menk Award for Faculty Support and Development. He intends to transfer photos and documentation of more than 100 wildflowers to CD and the Web. The database will include Latin and common names, origins, a “sound byte” on each plant, its habitat, and some of its herbal uses. Jones hopes the searchable Web database will be accessible to everyone. His students will be able to use the database on CD on a laptop at a habitat site where there is no Internet connection. The information will help students know “what to look for – petals, coloration – to correctly identify a species of wildflower,” Jones said.

Dutchman BreechesJones would like a section of the site to be interactive. A user could click on multiple plants names and a screen would pop up showing a picture of one of the plants. On that page, key characteristics would be listed, as well as a dictionary link to explain scientific terms.

Dr. Jones holds a B.S. from Bucknell University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. He has served on the Mary Baldwin faculty since 1986 and already has a well-used hiking trail list of Augusta and Highland counties found on the Mary Baldwin biology Web site at https://academic.marybaldwin.edu/biology/pages/TrailList.html .

The Menk Award is presented to help support a faculty member on sabbatical and is made possible by an endowed fund. The award honors two outstanding Mary Baldwin faculty, Dr. Patricia H. Menk, professor emerita of history and college historian and author of the college’s sesquicentennial history, To Live in Time. Her late husband, Dr. Karl F. Menk, was associate professor of microbiology from 1959 to 1981, director of laboratories at King’s Daughters’ Hospital, and founder of Mary Baldwin’s medical technology program. The award is made in recognition of the Menks’ achievements as teachers and scholars, and is intended to ensure a continuing tradition of outstanding teaching at Mary Baldwin University.

Image one: Jeff Buller, Patricia Menk, Eric Jones
Image two: FumariaceaeDicentra cucullariaor Dutchman’s Breeches