Mary Katharine Brandegee

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Mary Katharine "Kate" Brandegee (October 28, 1844 – April 3, 1920) was an American botanist known for her comprehensive studies of flora in California.

Life[edit]

Brandegee was born Mary Katharine Layne on October 28, 1844, the second child of Mary Morris Layne, a housewife, and Marshall Layne, a farmer.[1] The Laynes lived in western Tennessee and had nine other children.[2][3][1] Her family, already peripatetic, moved to California during the Gold Rush of 1849, though Marshall chose to farm;[2] they settled in Folsom, California when Kate was 9.[1] In 1866, 22 years old, she married Hugh Curran, a constable; in 1874, he died of alcoholism.[2][3] She did not marry again until 1889, when she wed Townshend Brandegee; they shared a love of science as she was a botanist and he was a civil engineer and plant collector. Brandegee died on April 3, 1920, in Berkeley, 76 years old.[2][3]

Career and legacy[edit]

The year after Curran died, Brandegee moved to San Francisco to attend medical school at the University of California, becoming the third woman to ever matriculate there.[3] There, she studied medicinal plants and became interested in botany. She received her M.D. in 1878 but chose not to practice.[2] She and Townshend collected over 100,000 specimens that they donated to the herbarium at the University of California, Berkeley.[3] Instead, the botanist Hans Hermann Behr took her on as a student and she began to work at the California Academy of Sciences. From 1883 to 1893, Brandegee took Alice Eastwood as a student while holding the position of the academy's botany curator; Eastwood succeeded Brandegee as the curator. After her second marriage, Brandegee traveled with her husband and collected plants throughout California, Arizona, and Mexico.[3] The couple founded and published the California Academy of Science's bulletins as well as the Western botany journal Zoe.[2] As she traveled, she found that several newly discovered species were actually not distinct. Her specimens also allowed later scientists to precisely determine the ranges of plants in the Western US.[1]

References[edit]

Citations
References
  • Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2002), International Encyclopedia of Women Scientists, Facts On File, ISBN 0-8160-4381-7 
  • Ogilvie, Marilyn; Harvey, Joy (2000), The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, ISBN 0-415-92040-X 
  • Yount, Lisa (1999), A to Z of Women in Science and Math, Facts on File, ISBN 0-81603797-3