THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST
THE ROAD TO THE ISLES: REMINISCENCES OF
ED VOSS AS DISSERTATION CHAIRMAN
Brian T. Hazlett
Briar Cliff University
Sioux City, IA, 51104
At this time twenty-five years ago, I was writing my dissertation. The energy,
youthful enthusiasm, and purpose with which I entered The University of Michigan had not abated. Ann Arbor's cultural stimulation and academic environment
remained unrivaled. I had served as a teaching assistant under notable faculty.
Nonetheless, my utmost reason for pursuing a doctorate at U-M was to study
under Edward G. Voss. No doubt, he stands highest among those who shaped my
botanical career. As a teacher (Fig. 14), he grounded me in nomenclature, aquatics, and the flora of northern Michigan. As mentor and dissertation chair, he directed my research, shaped my writing, penned letters of recommendation, and
served as an early reference on my resume. As a friend, he encouraged me during my early years as a college professor.
My passion for field botany and desire to teach at the college level developed
while still an undergraduate in western New York State. Midway through that
experience, a biology professor recommended (to those considering graduate
school) picking a research organism which one would still love after five years
of study. I tell my students that finding a dissertation committee chair with
whom one can develop and maintain a cordial relationship is considerably more
My rapport with Ed developed during a summer at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) while still pursuing my Master's at Michigan
State University. His invitation to take his Boreal Flora (Fig. 25) course came
when he visited East Lansing to speak about upper Great Lakes islands at a
Michigan Botanical Club meeting.
My research on the Nordhouse Dunes, a then proposed wilderness area, had
intensified an interest in regional flora. Moreover, I had concluded that continued graduate study centered on floristics (within Michigan, at least) would most
likely only happen under Ed's direction. My motivation to spend the summer at
UMBS centered on learning more about him and demonstrating that I was worthy of graduate study under his direction. Ed probably saw it as a prime opportunity to evaluate me.
The respective insights into each other's personalities gleaned during that
summer provided the foundation for our eventual collaboration on my dissertation research. In addition to taking Boreal Flora, I conducted an independent
study of the flora of Round Island, another proposed wilderness area, in the
Straits of Mackinac.