In collaboration with herbaria at the University of Washignton, Oregon State University, and Montana State University, in 2010 the herbarium was awarded a National Science Foundation Biological Research Collections grant to digitize (i.e., image and database) botanical research specimens at nearly twenty university, college, and federal agency herbaria in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Vascular plant, moss, lichen, and fungal specimens will be included in the project. Once digitized, we will place these records online for the public through an existing Web portal "http://www.pnwherbaria.org
". We are leveraging the cyberinfrastructure (e.g., ethernet, servers, technical staff) available at several large universities to build partnerships with smaller institutions that otherwise would not have the resources to undertake this activity.
Our project provides tangible benefits to the general public, undergraduate students, and the research community. Digitizing specimens and making them available online creates public access to collections that have been assembled in part through prior federal funding. The specimen data will be downloadable from the website, so anyone can use the information to pursue unique interests and questions. Undergraduate students will be involved extensively with imaging and databasing activities, providing them with skills and training applicable to future professional pursuits. Online availability of nearly 2 million Pacific Northwest herbarium specimens will increase access and efficiency for the research community using these collections.