Damon Little is a 2005 graduate of the Department of Plant Biology (L.H. Bailey Hortorium). Damon finished his PhD with Kevin Nixon researching the evolution and circumscription of the Cupressaceae: Cupressus and Callitropsis. Damon continues to study this conifer family that includes the redwoods (Metasequoia, Sequoia, and Sequoiadendron), arborvitae (Thuja), junipers (Juniperus) and cypress (Callitropsis and Cupressus). After working three years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Program for Molecular Studies at the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx, Damon Little has been promoted to Assistant Curator of Bioinformatics at the Institute of Systematic Botany in the Cullman Program for Molecular Systematic Studies. Damon’s research program, which is an extension his graduate studies in the Department of Plant Biology, involves a three prong approach, involving organismal biology, phylogenetic theory, and information technology/bioinformatics. His organismal studies focus on integrating anatomical, morphological and developmental information that can be used to inform cladistic analyses, which dovetail with his bioinformatics study of the performance evaluation of existing DNA barcoding algorithms. He has written as series of PERL scripts that operate in conjunction with a SQL database to gather and store morphological and taxonomic data.
Marcus McFerren is a 2000 graduate of the Department of Plant Biology (L.H. Bailey Hortorium). His PhD focused on the ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of North and South American angiosperm species used as fish poisons. He is an alumnus of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences where he received a Bachelors of Science degree in 1995. He was a visiting assistant professor at the Swarthmore College Department of Biology, where he taught courses in botany, ecological biochemistry, and medicinal plant chemistry from 2000-2002. In 2002 he joined the Cornell Medical College Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine as a teaching and research associate where he taught courses in the chemistry and pharmacology of herbal supplements and in 2006 he was awarded the MD degree. His training in internal medicine took place at the Kings County-Downstate Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn, NY. Presently, he is a resident physician at the Yale University School of Medicine Department of Dermatology where his research interests focus on the development of plant-derived agents in the treatment of dermatologic disease.