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Constance, Lincoln (1909-2001) | University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

Name: Constance, Lincoln (1909-2001)

Historical Note:

Lincoln Constance (1909-2001), respected plant taxonomist, expert on the Umbelliferae, and professor of Botany and administrator at the University of California, Berkeley, was born on February 16, 1909 to Lewis and Ella Constance in Eugene, Oregon.  He received his B. S. degree in 1930 from the University of Oregon.  There he met his wife Sara (Sally) Luten, who he would marry in 1935.

He went on to graduate school in Botany at the University of California, Berkeley, earning his M.S. in 1932 after working as a seasonal naturalist at Crater Lake National Park from 1931-1932, and his Ph. D. in 1937 with Dr. Willis Linn Jepson as his major advisor, studying the genus Eriophyllum. He briefly worked at the State College of Washington, Pullman (1934-1937) before being hired by the University of California as an Assistant Professor in 1937. He worked at Berkeley for 42 years, as Professor and Curator of the Herbarium to Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences to Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and finally Director of the Herbarium. He retired in 1976 and continued his research in the Herbarium as Professor and Director Emeritus. He took a leave of absence in 1953-1945 to work in the Office as Strategic Services as a geobotanist and research analyst, and another leave in 1947-1948 to serve as acting director of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.

He was one of the three original trustees of the Jepson Research Fund and involved in the establishment of the Jepson Herbarium after Willis Jepson's death in 1946. Over the course of his career he served as advisor to 29 graduate students, many of who went on to become prominent botanists. He authored over 200 publications, mostly on systematics and cytotaxonomy of the plant families Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) and Hydrophyllaceae. He was well respected in his field both professionally and personally as he did much to encourage the careers of his colleagues. For his scientific research he was awarded the Fellows' Medal from the California Academy of Sciences (1985) and the Asa Gray Award (1986). For his service to the University, he was awarded the Clark Kerr award in 1988.

He was member of the Botanical Society of American (past president), California Academy of Sciences, Biosystematists, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Linnaean Society of London, Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.

He passed away in Berkeley at age 92 in 2001.


1904                        Born in Eugene, Oregon

1930                        B.A. from University of Oregon

1932                        M.A. in Botany from University of California

1934                        Ph.D. in Botany from University of California

1934                        Hired as Instructor in Botany, State College of Washington, Pullman

1935                        Married Sara Luten (Sally)

1936                        Promoted to Assistant Professor

1937                        Hired by the University of California as Assistant Professor

1942                        Son Bill is born

1943-1947            Associate Professor of Botany and Assistant Curator of the Herbarium

1943-1945            Leave of absence to work for the Office of Strategic Services as a geobotanist and research analyst

1947-1965            Professor of Botany and Curator of Seed Plants

1947-1948            Leave of absence to serve as visiting lecturer in Biology and acting director of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University

1953-1954            Sabbatical to Chile with wife and son

1954-1955              Chairman, Department of Botany

1955-1962            Dean, Colleges of Letters and Sciences

1963-1965            Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Acting Chancellor for a brief period in 1965

1963-1976            Director of the University Herbarium

1967-1968            Sabbatical to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

1976                        Retired at age 67, Professor and Director, Emeritus

1977                        Dean Emeritus

1977-1978            Acting Director, University Herbarium and Botanical Garden

1977-1980            Director, Freshman Cluster Program.

1986                        Received the Asa Gray Award. Oral history completed by the Bancroft Library

1992                        Sally Constance passes away May 30

1996                        Constance experiences heart failure

June 11, 2001            Constance passes away at age 92. A memorial is held on October 28.

Sources: Constance, Lincoln. (1988). “Plant taxonomy in my time.” Aliso 12(1), pp.1-5.

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