YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Olga Herrera MacBryde, 70; Smithsonian botanist

May 21, 2007|From the Washington Post

Olga Herrera MacBryde, a Smithsonian Institution botanist for more than 20 years and an international conservationist for whom two plant species and a tree are named, died of nonsmokers' lung cancer April 22 at her home in Fairfax City, Va. She was 70.

Herrera MacBryde spent a decade in the Smithsonian's Botany Department, working as scientific coordinator, editor and sometimes coauthor of more than 60 chapters of the 1997 volume of "Centres of Plant Diversity," a geographic review of Earth's biologically rich sites. She specialized in areas of Mexico and South America.

From 1995 to 2004 she worked as coordinator of international environmental training courses with the Smithsonian's management and assessment of biodiversity program.

She was editor of a bilingual report on the Mayan forest in Mexico and Central America and primary editor of a book on biodiversity, local communities, conservation and management for the Beni Biosphere Reserve region in northern tropical Bolivia. She was also the Spanish editor for the translation of a book on methods to monitor the biodiversity of frogs and other amphibians.

Two Ecuadoran plant species are named after her and her husband, botanist Bruce MacBryde, and the tree Psychotria olgae in Chagres National Park in Panama is named in recognition of her work.

A native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Olga Sabina Herrera Carvajal graduated as valedictorian from the Colegio Normal Rita Lecumberry in her hometown. She taught elementary grades, high school Spanish, Ecuadoran history and natural sciences and supervised teachers in training at Colegio de la Inmaculada, Colegio Normal Rita Lecumberry, Escuela Republica de Argentina and Colegio Americano.

While teaching, she also took courses and twice graduated as valedictorian from the Universidad de Guayaquil, in 1963 receiving a secondary school teaching certificate in natural sciences and in 1964 a bachelor's degree in botany.

After a year at the University of Houston, she received a teaching assistantship and in 1968 a master's degree in biology from St. Louis University. She conducted her taxonomic research at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where she met her husband.

From 1970 to 1972, Herrera MacBryde chaired and taught in the biology department of Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito. She and her husband co-founded the university herbarium, which has become a main center in Ecuador for botanical research.

In addition to her husband of 38 years, she is survived by a son, Brendon Douglas MacBryde, and a sister.

Los Angeles Times Articles