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May 1, 2014

Botanist Musselman Gets Fulbright Grant for Visits to Brunei

topstory4-lgLytton Musselman
By Jim Raper

Lytton Musselman, Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany at Old Dominion, has received a Fulbright Specialist Grant in environmental sciences that will support two visits he will make this year and next to the Universiti Brunei Darussalam in the East Asian nation of Brunei.

In June of this year and again in June 2015, Musselman will work with undergraduates at Brunei Darussalam, and turn his attention as a botanist to spectacular flora in the country.

"Brunei, which shares the island of Borneo with Malaysia and Indonesia, has the richest tree flora in the world, and the government there is doing a great job of protecting these plants," Musselman said.

Musselman has developed a specialty in parasitic plants - such as mistletoe, which derives nourishment by parasitizing other plants - and he will share this expertise in establishing experiments in this field that students and faculty at Brunei Darussalam can pursue. He will also be involved in general training of students in plant identification.

He has received three previous Fulbright awards for work in Sudan, West Bank and Jordan, and has also mentored three Fulbright Scholars who have worked in his lab at ODU.

"It is an honor to be selected and this can offer tremendous career advancement, as well as the immeasurable personal enrichment of work in a different culture," he said.

Through the networking of Musselman, ODU and Brunei Darussalam signed a memorandum of understanding in 2011 to promote collaborative research and student/faculty exchanges between the two campuses.

An ODU faculty member for nearly 40 years, Musselman is a prolific author and editor. Last year he published "The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants" (Johns Hopkins University Press) together with one of his former students at ODU, Harold J. Wiggins. In 2012, he and ODU alumnus and Army Corps environmental scientist David Knepper produced the field guide "Plants of the Chesapeake Bay" (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Musselman also is an expert on the plants of biblical lands. His "Dictionary of Bible Plants" (Cambridge University Press) was published in 2011. He is the author of "Figs, Dates, Laurel, and Myrrh: Plants of the Bible and the Quran" (2007, Timber Press) and "Jordan in Bloom - Wildflowers of the Holy Land" (2000), commissioned by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan.

His expertise in plants around the globe results in Musselman getting numerous invitations to speak. In April he was an invited presenter at the Islamic Perspectives on Ecosystem Management meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Musselman's notice that he had won the Fulbright Award was from the Council for International Exchange of Scholars on behalf of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.