Dr. Elizabeth Hermsen is a Research Scientist specializing in paleobotany at the Paleontological Research Institution. Before joining PRI in 2018, she had postdoctoral positions at the University of Kansas and Cornell University; she was later a faculty member at Ohio University, where she taught structural botany. Her current research projects including elucidating the fossil record of water ferns and describing plant taxa from the fruit and seed flora of the early Pliocene Gray Fossil Site, Tennessee. She is also contributing to the Digital Encyclopedia of Ancient Life, an online, open-access textbook of paleontology.

Research Focus

Dr. Hermsen’s research program encompasses describing and interpreting the structure of fossil plants, as well as exploring plant evolution and biogeography from the perspective of the fossil record. Her dissertation research was focused on the North American fossil records of sweetspires (Iteaceae) and currants and gooseberries (Grossulariaceae). For her postdoctoral positions, she researched fossil vascular plants from the southern hemisphere, including Triassic plants from Antarctica and Late Cretaceous and Eocene plants from Patagonia, Argentina; she worked on ancient water ferns (Salviniales), cycads (Cycadales), and flowering plants (angiosperms), among other groups. She continues to collaborate on projects involving the systematics of Patagonian paleofloras, and she also maintains a research program into the fossil record and evolution of water ferns.

Currently, Dr. Hermsen’s major research focus is to describe fossil plant taxa from the fruit and seed flora of the early Pliocene Gray Fossil Site of eastern Tennessee, USA. Gray Fossil Site is one of only a few Neogene plant macrofossil sites in eastern North America, and its flora and fauna show some links to the modern biota of eastern Asia. The purpose of the project is to further document the biodiversity of the flora and to explore its biogeographic connections. As part of the broader impacts of the project, Dr. Hermsen is creating related content for the Digital Encyclopedia of Ancient Life.

Additional Links

Selected Publications (*** = peer-reviewed)

  • Gandolfo, M.A. and E.J. Hermsen. 2017. Ceratopetalum (Cunoniaceae) fruits of Australasian affinity from the early Eocene Laguna del Hunco flora, Patagonia, Argentina. Annals of Botany 119: 507–516 [https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw283]. *** [paper] [#853]
  • Hermsen, E.J. and M.A. Gandolfo. 2016. Fruits of Juglandaceae from the Eocene of South America . Systematic Botany 41: 316–328 [https://doi.org/10.1600/036364416X691830]. *** [paper] [#854]
  • Ksepka, D.T., J.F. Parham, J.F. Allman, M.J. Benton, M.T. Carrano, K.A. Cranston, P.C.J. Donoghue, J.J. Head, E.J. Hermsen, R.B. Irmis, W.G. Joyce, M. Kohli, K.D. Lamm, D. Leehr, J.L. Patané, P.D. Polly, M.J. Phillips, N.A. Smith, N.D. Smith, M. Van Tuinen, J.L. Ware and R.C.M. Warnock. 2015. The Fossil Calibration Database—a new resource for divergence dating. Systematic Biology 64: 853–859 [https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syv025]. *** [paper] [#855]
  • Cúneo, N.R., M.A. Gandolfo, M.C. Zamaloa and E. Hermsen. 2014. Late Cretaceous aquatic plant world in Patagonia, Argentina. PLoS ONE 9(8): e104749 [https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104749]. *** [paper] [#856]
  • Hendricks, J.R., E.E. Saupe, C.E. Myers, E.J. Hermsen and W.D. Allmon. 2014. The generification of the fossil record. Paleobiology 40: 511–528 [https://doi.org/10.1666/13076] . *** [paper] [#857]
  • Gandolfo, M.A., N.R. Cúneo and E.J. Hermsen. 2014. Reporte preliminar sobre la paleoflora de la Formación La Colonia (Campaniano-Maastrichtiano, Cretácico tardío), Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina. Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana 66: 11–23 [http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1405-33222014000100003 ]. *** [paper] [#858]
  • Hermsen, E.J., M.A. Gandolfo and N.R. Cúneo. 2014. New marsileaceous fossils from the Late Cretaceous of South America and a reevaluation of Marsileaceaephyllum. Plant Systematics and Evolution 300: 369–386 [https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-013-0886-7]. *** [paper] [#859]
  • Hermsen, E.J., M.A. Gandolfo and M.C. Zamaloa. 2012. The fossil record of Eucalyptus in Patagonia.. American Journal of Botany 99: 1356–1374 [https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1200025]. *** [paper] [#860]
  • Ryberg, P.E., E.J. Hermsen, E.L. Taylor, T.N. Taylor and J.M. Osborn. 2008. Development and ecological implications of dormant buds in the high-paleolatitude Triassic sphenophyte Spaciinodum (Equisetaceae). American Journal of Botany 95: 1443–1453 [https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.0800215]. *** [paper] [#861]
  • Hermsen, E.J., T.N. Taylor, E.L. Taylor and D.Wm. Stevenson. 2006. Cataphylls of the Middle Triassic cycad Antarcticycas schopfii and new insights into cycad evolution. American Journal of Botany 93: 724–738 [https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.93.5.724]. *** [paper] [#862]