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Musselman Teaches Botany Course in Iraq

Lytton John Musselman, the Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany at Old Dominion University, spent most of the month of May teaching a course at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani (AUIS) that was designed to explain just how diverse and important the plant life is in Iraq.

Musselman said he wanted to give students the tools necessary to identify vascular plants in the regions near the university. He taught the course together with Peter Schafran, an ODU graduate student in botany whom he advises.

"The biodiversity of Iraq has suffered unrecoverable damage from the Saddam era, and now the new prosperity that is coming with increased construction and agricultural expansion is continuing the erosion of biodiversity," said Musselman. "That is why it is essential that the new, rising generation knows how to recognize, index and preserve the natural heritage of the country."

This was Musselman's fourth trip to AUIS to share his expertise in the ethnobotany and the flora of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. His "A Dictionary of Bible Plants," was published by Cambridge University Press in December 2011.

In addition to teaching students how to recognize and name the major plant families in the region, the course offered a number of field trip opportunities to Piramagrun, Karadagh and Hazar Merd.

This article was posted on: June 28, 2012

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