Austin Mast, Ph.D.

My research program involves topics within the broadly defined area of biodiversity study. I am particularly interested in (1) the interplay of ecology and evolution that determines the form and function of plant life on Earth, (2) the use of biodiversity research specimens and digital information about them to bring that interplay into sharper focus, and (3) public engagement in the research to further science and STEM literacy goals.  Historically, I have focused my research on Macadamias and relatives (the plant family Proteaceae), Primroses and relatives (the plant family Primulaceae), and historical biogeography, but I'm keen to innovate wherever I see opportunities to expand our understanding of biodiversity. This has led me deep into the areas of biodiversity informatics and citizen science in recent years, and I have NSF-funded grants in both of those areas. My teaching, mentoring, and service activities complement these research interests.  In Fall semesters, I typically teach Field Botany.  In Spring 2015, Libby and I organized a graduate course on Citizen Science (the first anywhere, as far as we could tell), and, in Spring 2016, I taught a new undergraduate course on Plants and Society.  I am actively seeking graduate and undergraduate students for the lab who share my research interests.  Tallahassee is situated on the eastern edge of one of North America's biotic hotspots—a great place to be a biologist! For more information on the environs, visit the department's Ecology and Evolution Section website.  My primary service within FSU is as Director of the Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium, Associate Director of the Institute for Digital Information and Scientific Communication, and Member of the Council on Research and Creativity.  My primary service within the research community is as President of the Society of Herbarium Curators, Treasurer of American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Steering Committee Member of Notes from Nature and SERNEC, and Advisory Board Member for Harvard University Herbaria. I have particularly enjoyed working with others in the biodiversity collections community to produce the annual Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio) Event (2015 onward) and the WeDigFLPlants citizen science project.  If you curate a biodiversity collection and would like to post your specimens on Notes from Nature, I encourage you to consider using Biospex to do so.  I gave a recent webinar on the topic that was recorded and is available here.  And please take a moment to check out the Libraries of Life augmented reality cards and Apple iOS and Android App that I co-developed with Anne Basham—it's a lot of fun!  In my spare time I enjoy trail running, kayaking, and swimming in the region's seemingly endless local forests, savannas, springs, and beaches.

Education and Employment History: 

I received my Ph.D. in 2000 from the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I was a postdoc at the Institute of Systematic Biology at the University of Zurich from 2000–2003.  Since 2003, I have had a faculty position in the Department of Biological Science at Florida State University, where I am now at the rank of Professor.

Contact info: 

Department of Biological Science
319 Stadium Drive
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4295

Office is King Life Science Building, room 4065
Lab is King Life Science Building, rooms 4068 and 4084
Herbarium is Biological Science Unit One, room 100

Voice: 1 (850) 645-1500
Fax:  1 (850) 645-8447

Selected Publications

Ellwood, E. R., Kimberly, P., Guralnick, R., Flemons, P., Love, K., Ellis, S., 29 additional authors, Mast, A. R. 2018.

Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio)—The Biocollections Community's Citizen Science Space on the Calendar.

Buddenhagen, C. E., W. W. Thomas, and A. R. Mast. 2017.

A First Look at Diversification of Beaksedges (Tribe Rhynchosporeae; Cyperaceae) in Habitat, Pollination, and Photosynthetic Features.

Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 118.
Cardillo, M., Weston, P., Reynolds, Z., Olde, P., Mast, A. R., Lemmon, E. M., Lemmon, A., Bromham, L. 2017.

The phylogeny and biogeography of Hakea (Proteaceae) reveals the role of biome shifts in a continental plant radiation.

Evolution 71: 1928–1943
Lacey, E. A., Hammond, T. T., Walsh, R. E., Bell, K. C., Edwards, S. V., Ellwood, E. R., Guralnick, R., Ickert-Bond, S. M., Mast, A., McCormack, J. E., Monfils, A. K., Soltis, P. S., Soltis, D. E., Cook, J. A. 2017.

Climate Change, Collections and the Classroom: Using Big Data to Tackle Big Problems.

Evolution: Education and Outreach 10: 2
Ellwood, E., G. Nelson, H. L. Bart, Jr., M. H. Doosey, D. Jue, J. Mann, N. Rios, and A. R. Mast. 2016.

Mapping life—quality assessment of novice vs. expert georeferencers.

Citizen Science: Theory and Practice 1: 1–12.
Deans, A. R., and 71 co-authors. 2015.

Finding our way through phenotypes.

Ellwood, E.R., B. Dunckel, P. Flemons, R. Guralnick, G. Nelson, G. Newman, S. Newman, D. Paul, G. Riccardi, N. Rios, K. C. Seltmann and A. R. Mast. 2015.

Accelerating digitization of biodiversity research specimens through online public participation.

BioScience, 65
Mast, A., P. M. Olde, R. O. Makinson, E. Jones, A. Kubes, E. Miller, & P. H. Weston. 2015.

Paraphyly changes understanding of timing and tempo of diversification in subtribe Hakeinae (Proteaceae), a giant Australian plant radiation.

American Journal of Botany 102: 1634–1646
Matsunaga, A., A. Mast and J. A. B. Fortes. 2015.

Workforce-efficient consensus in crowdsourced transcription of biocollections information.

Future Generation Computer Systems 56: 526–536.
Nelson, G., Sweeney, P., Wallace, L. E., Rabeler, R. K., Allard, D., Brown, H., Carter, R. J., Denslow, M. W., Ellwood, E. R., Germain-Aubrey, C. C., Gilbert, E., Gillespie, E., Goertzen, L. R., Legler, B., Marchant, D. B., Marisco, T. D., Morris, A. B., 2015.

Digitization workflows for flat sheets and packets of plants, algae, and fungi.

Applications in Plant Sciences 3: 1500065.
Thiele, K., P. Weston, and A. R. Mast. 2015.

Paraphyly, modern systematics, and the transfer of Dryandra into Banksia (Proteaceae): A response to George. 

Australian Systematic Botany 28: 194–202.
Matsunaga, A., A. Mast and J. A. B. Fortes. 2014.

Reaching Consensus in Crowdsourced Transcription of Biocollections Information.

Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE 10th International Conference on e-Science 57–64
Uhen, M., A. Barnosky, B. Bills, J. Blois, M. Carrasco, M. Carrano, G. Erickson, J. Eronen, M. Fortelius, R. Graham, E. Grimm, M. O'Leary, A. Mast, W. Piel and D. Polly. 2013.

From card catalogs to computers: Databases in vertebrate paleontology.

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33: 13–28.
Mast, A. R., E. F. Milton, E. H. Jones, R. M. Barker, W. R. Barker and P. H. Weston. 2012.

A time-calibrated phylogeny of the woody Australian genus Hakea (Proteaceae) supports multiple origins of insect-pollination among bird-pollinated ancestors.

American Journal of Botany 99: 472–487.
Nelson, G., D. Paul, G. Riccardi and A. R. Mast. 2012

Five task clusters that enable efficient and effective digitizations of biological collections.

ZooKeys 209: 19–45.