Lee Kass

Lee Kass

Visiting Professor

Visiting Professor

440 Mann Library Building
(607) 255-2131

I received my doctoral training in plant anatomy, plant physiology and genetics at Cornell University. During six years of postdoctoral and research appointments, I concurrently taught classes part-time in my chosen fields. I then entered full-time teaching (24 credit hours per year) at Elmira College and conducted research with students during summers as an adjunct professor at the L.H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University. I established the Elmira College Herbarium in 1984, founded on the historical plant collections of T. F. Lucy. During my first sabbatical at the L. H. Bailey Hortorium in 1990, I completed the first edition of my Field Guide to the Common Plants of San Salvador Island which was published in 1991, and subsequently has been revised and updated (2005, 2009). While a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor at the College of the Bahamas in 1996, I facilitated the establishment of the Bahamas National Herbarium (BNH), of which I am currently an associated staff member. I have also been Visiting Professor at the herbaria of Michigan State University, and Cornell University. In summer 2000, I retired from full-time teaching. Currently, I am Visiting Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Cornell, where I focus my efforts on publishing scientific papers and writing an intellectual biography of Barbara McClintock (Cornellian and Nobel Laureate). I also continue consulting and investigating the biodiversity and reproductive biology of Bahamian Plants. I am a resource person for investigators on the Bahama Flora and historians working in the field of botany and genetics. I collaborated with Professor R. P. Murphy of the Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics to write a Centennial history of their department (Murphy & Kass, 2007, 2011). Also, I have guided Elmira College Honors and Research students in updating names for the T. F. Lucy Herbarium collection, which is currently housed at Cornell (Graver et al. 2005), and now we are working on a project curating Lucy’s specimens for the Buffalo Museum of Science (Tilden et al. 2008). Upon completing my current projects, I plan to continue my work in the Bahamas, and pursue research for a biography of L. H. Bailey.

Research Focus

I focus my efforts on publishing scientific papers and writing an intellectual biography of Barbara McClintock (Cornellian and Nobel Laureate) (Kass 2013, Kass Chomet 2009, Kass Gale 2008, Kass Cobb 2007, Kass 2006, Kass et al. 2005, Coe Kass 2005, Kass 2005b, Kass Bonneuil 2004). One book has been published (Kass 2013), a companion volume with an analysis for each of McClintock's publications, and one is in preparation: an intellectual biography of McClintock. I also conduct investigations on the biodiversity and reproductive biology of Bahamian Plants (Landry et al 2014, Kass et al. 2011, Landry et al. 2009, Kass et al. 2007, Slusher et al. 2007, Kass 2005a; see also Conference Proceedings). An updated and expanded third edition of my field guide to the Common Plants of San Salvador Island, Bahamas has been published (Kass 2009). A co-authored guide to the trees of San Salvador is in preparation. As a member of the Bahamas National Trust, Science Advisory Committee, I am a resource person for investigators on the Bahama Flora. For studies on the Bahama Flora, I have advised and collaborated with Cornell undergraduate students (Kass Miller 2006) and graduate students elsewhere (Slusher et al. 2007). I’m also a consultant for historians working in the field of botany and genetics. I have prepared a forthcoming perspective on the contributions to the Bahama flora. Professor R. P. Murphy and I published a Centennial History of Cornell's Department of Plant Biology (Murphy Kass 2007, 2011). I have guided Elmira College Honors and Research students in updating names for the T. F. Lucy Herbarium collection, which is currently housed at Cornell (Graver et al. 2005), and in collaboration with Dr. Carol Kelloff of the Smithsonian Institution, we are currently curating Lucy’s historically valuable herbarium specimens for the Buffalo Museum of Science (Tilden et al. 2008).

Teaching Focus

I retired from full time teaching at Elmira College in summer 2000. I continue to teach classes in Tropical Biology on a part-time basis and mentor graduate and undergraduate students. In May/June 2008, I co-taught Tropical Biology at the Gerace Research Centre (GRC) on San Salvador Island, Bahamas; In 2010, I taught Tropical Ecology at GRC for West Virginia University (WVU). As an Adjunct Professor at WVU, I co-teach the Graduate Genetics Seminar.

Awards and Honors

  • American Men and Women of Science (32nd Edition) (2014)
  • Who's Who of American Women (25th Silver Anniversary Edition, 2006-2007) (2006)
  • Fulbright Scholar Award (1996) Fulbright Scholarship Board & College of the Bahamas
  • Josef Stein Award for excellence in teaching and scholarly achievement (1985) Elmira College

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Landry, C. L., Elliott, N. B., Finkle, A. J., & Kass, L. (2014). Plant-Pollinator Interactions in Bahamian Coastal Communities.. Caribbean Naturalist . 9:pp. 1-16.
  • Landry, C. L., Rathcke, B. J., & Kass, L. (2009). Distribution of androdioecious and hermaphroditic populations of the mangrove Laguncularia racemosa (Combretaceae) in Florida and the Bahamas. . Journal of Tropical Ecology. 25:75-83.
  • Tilden, D., Kass, L., & Egan, T. P. (2008). Thomas F. Lucy's plant collections, donated to the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences in the early 20th century. . Rhodora. 110:484-491.
  • Slusher, J., Davis, R. L., & Kass, L. (2007). Distribution of the Brazilian Pepper Tree on San Salvador. Bahamas Naturalist and Journal of Science. 2:21-30.
  • Kass, L., & Cobb, E. (2007). Landmarks and milestones in American plant biology, the Cornell connection. Plant Science Bulletin. 53:90-101.
  • Kass, L., Hunt, R. E., Danforth, S., & Egan, T. (2007). Reproductive biology of Buttonwood, a polygamous population on San Salvador. Bahamas Naturalist and Journal of Science. 2:40-49.
  • Kass, L., & Miller, I. (2006). A new look at illustrations for Flora of the Bahama Archipelago. Bahamas Naturalist and Journal of Science. 1:37-41.
  • Kass, L. (2005). Alice Northrop’s type specimens for the Bahama flora. Brittonia. 57:88-101.
  • Kass, L., Bonneuil, C., & Coe, E. (2005). Cornfests, cornfabs and cooperation: The origins and beginnings of the Maize Genetics Cooperation News Letter. Genetics. 169:1787-1797.
  • Kass, L. (2005). Harriet Creighton: Proud botanist. Plant Science Bulletin. 51:118-125.
  • Coe, E., & Kass, L. (2005). Proof of physical exchange of genes on the chromosomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 102:6641-6656.
  • Kass, L. (2003). Records and recollections: A new look at Barbara McClintock, Nobel Prize-Winning geneticist. Genetics. 164:1251-1260.
  • Kelloff, C. L., & Kass, L. (1993). Dr. Thomas F. Lucy: Early botanist of the Chemung River Valley, New York. Rhodora. 95:137-154.
  • Kass, L., & Eshbaugh, W. H. (1993). The contributions of William T. Gillis (1933-1979) to the flora of the Bahamas. Rhodora. 95:369-391.
  • Kelloff, C. L., Kass, L., & Kowalski, A. J. (1990). Thomas F. Lucy's "Upper Susquehanna Flora" herbarium rediscovered.. Rhodora. 92:1-10.

Presentations and Activities

  • Barbara McClintock at Cornell University: 1919-1939 & Beyond. October 2013. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY USA.
  • A Celebration of Life for Royse P. Murphy. October 2013. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY USA.
  • Cornell University: the McClintock Years. June 2013. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY USA.
  • Contributions of William T. Gillis to the Bahama Flora: an historical Perspective. October 2012. Fairchild Tropical Garden/Bahamas National Trust. Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas.
  • Charles Frederick Millspaugh and the legacy of the West Virginia University Herbaria. July 2012. Botanical Society of America. Columbus Ohio.
  • Charles Frederick Millspaugh, M.D. Pioneer of West Virginia Botany. June 2012. Society for Economic Botany, 53rd Annual Meeting. Frostburg, MD .
  • Outreach in the Bahama Islands: Teaching, Research and Service in a Global Environment. October 2011. West Virginia University. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.
  • Barbara McClintock at the University of Missouri (1936-1942): The Road to Transposition. July 2011. Botanical Society of America. St. Louis, Missouri.
  • A curious dichotomously branching tree-palm found in The Bahamas. June 2011. Gerace Research Centre. San Salvador, Bahamas.
  • Brushes with Genius, Cornell Faculty members recall Barbara McClintock. August 2010. Division of Rare and Manuscripts Collections, Carl A Kroch Library, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.