Emma Lucy Braun

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E. Lucy Braun
Emma Lucy Braun crop.jpg
Born (1889-04-19)April 19, 1889
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died March 5, 1971(1971-03-05) (aged 81)
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Cincinnati
Awards President of the Ecological Society of America and the Ohio Academy of Science;
Ohio Conservation Hall of Fame;
Mary Soper Pope medal in Botany, 1952;
Certificate of Merit of the Botanical Society of America, 1956
Scientific career
Fields Botanist, ecologist, and expert on Eastern US forests
Institutions University of Cincinnati,
Author abbrev. (botany) E.L.Braun
Sister: Annette Braun

E. Lucy Braun (April 19, 1889 – March 5, 1971) was a prominent botanist, ecologist, and expert on the forests of the eastern United States who was a professor of the University of Cincinnati. She was an environmentalist before the term was popularized, and a pioneering woman in her field, winning many awards for her work.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Emma Lucy Braun was born on April 19, 1889 in Cincinnati; she lived in Ohio for the remainder of her life.[2] The daughter of George Frederick and Emma Moriah (Wright) Braun, her early interest in the natural world was encouraged by her parents, who took her and her older sister Annette Frances Braun into the woods to identify wildflowers. Braun's mother even had a small herbarium. In high school, Braun herself began collecting plants for study, the beginning of a huge personal herbarium that she assembled over her lifetime, composed of 11,891 specimens. Her collection is now a part of the herbarium at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.[3]

In college, she studied botany and geology. She earned a PhD in botany and became the sixth woman to earn a PhD from the University of Cincinnati; her sister was the first. Braun went on to become an assistant in teaching both geology and biology, and eventually became professor emeritus of plant ecology at the University of Cincinnati.[2] In 1948, she retired early from teaching, but only to more fully devote herself to her research and to various public service ventures. She also conducted extensive field studies with her sister who was an entomologist. They purchased a car in 1930 and used to travel around the East Coast, studying the environment. Braun took hundreds of photographs of the natural flora. These field studies mainly focused on the flora of the Appalachian Mountains and Adams County, Ohio and largely contributed to her most famous book. Braun and her sister encountered moonshiners during their field studies, although they never turned anyone in, and became friends with the locals in order to explore the forests. They set up a laboratory and experimental garden at their shared home; she was never married. Braun also fought to conserve natural areas and set up nature reserves, particularly in her home state. She died in her home at age 81 of congestive heart failure, and is buried in Cincinnati with her parents and sister.[4]


Over her career, Lucy Braun wrote four books and 180 articles published in over twenty journals. Her most famous work was the book Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America, published in 1950. Francis Fosberg said of her book "one can only say that it is a definitive work, and that it has reached a level of excellence seldom or never before attained in American ecology or vegetation science, at least in any work of comparable importance." Braun carried out research in vascular plant floristics and deciduous forests.[2] Four taxa of vascular plants were named in her honor, all previously described by her.[5] She founded the Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society, and helped edit their magazine Wild Flower. As a professor, she had thirteen MA students and one PhD student, nine of which were women; the mentorship of graduate students was uncommon for female professors at the time.[6]

She compared the flora in particular areas with the flora from a century earlier. She influenced the process by which regional changes in flora were analyzed over time.

Awards, honors, and distinctions[edit]

Lucy Braun was Vice President and later President of the Ecological Society of America, both firsts for a woman. The Braun Award for Excellence in Ecology, is awarded yearly by the Society. She was the president of the Ohio Academy of Science from 1933-1934, and was inducted into the Ohio Conservation Hall of Fame in 1971, again the first woman in both cases. In 1952, she was awarded the Mary Soper Pope Medal in botany. In 1956, she was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the Botanical Society of America and was declared one of the fifty most outstanding botanists.

Selected publications[edit]

Standard author abbreviation[edit]


  1. ^ Peskin, Perry K. (1978). "A Walk Through Lucy Braun's Prairie". The Explorer. 20 (4): 19–21. 
  2. ^ a b c Ogilvie, Marilyn; Joy Harvey (2000). Women in Science. 29 West 35th St New York NY 10001: Routledge. p. 173. ISBN 0-415-92038-8. 
  3. ^ Grinstein, Louise S.; Biermann, Carol A.; Rose, Rose K. (1997). Women in the Biological Sciences. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-313-29180-2. 
  4. ^ Grinstein, Louise S.; Biermann, Carol A.; Rose, Rose K. (1997). Women in the Biological Sciences. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-313-29180-2. 
  5. ^ Stuckey, Ronald L. (May 1992). Women Botanists of Ohio Born Before 1900. Ocala, Florida: Greene's Printing. p. 36. 
  6. ^ Langenheim, Jean (1996). "Early History and Progress of Women Ecologists: Emphasis Upon Research Contributions". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 27: 53. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.27.1.1. JSTOR 2097228. 
  7. ^ IPNI.  E.L.Braun. 


  • Stuckey, Ronald L. (1997). "Emma Lucy Braun (1889–1971)". In Grinstein, Louise S.; Biermann, Carol A.; Rose, Rose K. Women in the Biological Sciences: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 44–50. ISBN 0-313-29180-2. 

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