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dried flowers and leaves


The Herbarium is SUNY Oswego’s plant museum, featuring approximately 40,000 specimens of pressed and dried plants with associated collection data. 

Each specimen represents an irreplaceable time capsule: a record of a species occurring at a specific place and time. With specimens dating back as far as the early 1800s, and originating from every continent except Antarctica, the Oswego Herbarium represents a significant global collection. The greatest coverage is for the flora of Upstate New York.

The Oswego Herbarium is primarily a research collection, and includes a smaller teaching collection of local flora to support classes in the Department of Biological Sciences, such as Plant Systematics, Plant Kingdom, Introduction to Ecology, and Trees and Shrubs.

Collection Statistics   

Based on the 7,000 specimens cataloged so far (18%)




Plant Families 



A student digitizing plant specimens

Digitization & Online Access 

Natural history collections are working to digitize their specimens, making high-resolution images and specimen data available online to researchers and the public. At least 2.5 billion specimens have been digitized worldwide. These data are being used to fuel cutting-edge research on topics including:

  • biodiversity conservation
  • climate change biology
  • taxonomy 
  • evolution
  • and invasive species

Thanks to an NSF grant (#2204516), SUNY Oswego student interns are actively digitizing the Oswego Herbarium to contribute to this effort. Our specimens can be viewed on portals of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria (CNH).

Browse the collection on GBIFBrowse the collection on CNH 

A group of people standing at a table with books of dried plant specimens

History of the Herbarium

The Oswego Herbarium is a large and significant collection for a small, teaching-focused institution. A majority of the collection was transferred from Syracuse University in the mid-1970s. During that time, many institutions, including Syracuse University, were disposing of their natural history collections as departments began shifting their emphasis to molecular biology. The transferred collection, added to a smaller in-house collection, sat in boxes in the basement of Piez Hall. The construction of the Shineman Center in 2013 provided the opportunity to create a dedicated space for the herbarium, complete with new museum cabinets. That same year, Dr. Andrew P. Nelson volunteered to start the methodical process of sorting, curating, and cataloging the Oswego Herbarium. The current NSF grant has provided funding to finish this process.

Two people looking at plant specimens on a computer screen


During the active period of our NSF grant (2022-2025), we’re recruiting student interns each semester to take part in our Herbarium Museum Techniques Internship Program. Interns earn a paycheck and upper-level academic credit in Biology or Zoology while developing hands-on skills in specimen curation and digitization, preparing them for careers working in museums and natural history collections.

Students interested in this opportunity are encouraged to review EXCEL’s internship requirements and keep alert for internship postings. Our most recent position description and application form can be viewed at the link.

Apply for an Internship

Dr. Andrew P. Nelson Herbarium Research Fund

When the Oswego Herbarium finally achieved a permanent home in the Shineman Center, botanist and Director Emeritus of Rice Creek Field Station Dr. Andrew “Andy” P. Nelson volunteered to begin the methodical process of sorting these specimens. Dr. Nelson worked to repair damage that had incurred over the past decades, reviewing identifications, updating nomenclature, and cataloging specimen data. He also began preparing the herbarium for digitization. Dr. Nelson devoted two days per week to this endeavor from 2013 to 2022 before his passing in 2023. Added to this tremendous service are the hundreds of specimens he collected locally and added to the collection before 2013. 

To preserve his legacy, Dr. Nelson’s wife Mary Anne, family, and colleagues established a fund in his name to support student research and conference travel. To give to the fund,  follow the link below to the College Foundation’s giving page. Under Area of Support, select “Other or Multiple.” Then search for “herbarium.”

Support the Herbarium 

Collector Highlight: Dr. Mildred E. Faust

Dr. Mildred E. Faust

The Oswego Herbarium houses thousands of specimens collected by Dr. Mildred “Millie” E. Faust. Faust was the first female biologist to receive tenure at Syracuse University. She was an authority on the flora of New York State and served as the president of the Syracuse Botanical Club for more than 40 years. She taught botany, ecology, and palynology (the study of pollen) at Syracuse University from 1926-1965, and then served as an adjunct professor at SUNY ESF from 1970-1988. Faust’s extensive lifelong collection of plants was split between SUNY ESF and Syracuse University until the latter was transferred to Oswego. Follow the link to learn more about Faust and other local women who contributed to the Oswego Herbarium.

Celebrating Women of Oswego's Herbarium


Herbarium Director:
Dr. Kamal Mohamed 
[email protected]

Internships and Digitization:
Dr. Kristen Haynes 
[email protected] 

Associated Faculty:
Dr. Jinyan Guo 
[email protected] 

Dr. Eric Hellquist 
[email protected] 

Dr. James Seago, Faculty Emeritus

Student Interns:

  • Breanna Leasure (Fall 2022)
  • Logan Steckmeister (Fall 2022)
  • Asufi Edwards (Spring 2023)
  • Isabelle Keefe (Spring 2023)
  • Joshua Kelley (Spring 2023)
  • Emma Demane (Summer 2023)

Student Interns:

  • Ciara Hayden (Summer 2023)
  • Kethelle Ferreira Ferro Batista (Summer 2023)
  • Raina Becker (Fall 2023)
  • Joe-Lee Furino (Fall 2023)
  • Juan Montenegro (Fall 2023)
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