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Mark A. Schlessman Professor of Biology

I am an evolutionary biologist who loves plants. I am especially interested in the ways that angiosperms distribute stamens and pistils among their flowers in order to specialize more on either the male or the female component of reproductive success.  I’m also working on a flora of the Vassar College Ecological Preserve and on digitizing the Vassar College Herbarium.  I am semi-retired, teaching half time.  I offer a Plant Biodiversity intensive (BIOL 393) each semester through spring 2022, and will teach Ecology and Evolution of Sexual Reproduction (BIOL 355) fall semester 2021.  I co-chair the College Arboretum Committee and oversee our class tree program.

  • BA, Colorado College; MS, PhD, University of Washington
  • At Vassar since 1980

Contact

Research and Academic Interests

  • Biology
  • Plant Diversity & Evolution
  • Field Botany
  • Evolutionary Genetics
  • Ecology & Evolution of Sexual Reproduction

Departments and Programs

Courses

  • BIOL 393. Special Topics in Biology

Selected Publications

Selected Publications (* = student coauthor)

  • Schlessman, M.A., *K. Lee, *C. Perkins, & *M. Harrington. 2020. Effects of fruit set, mineral nutrition, and herbivory on male flower production in andromonoecious Polanisia dodecandra subsp. trachesperma (Cleomaceae). Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 147(4):338-350.
  • Schlessman, M.A., *L.B. Vary, J. Munzinger, & P.P. Lowry. 2014. Incidence, correlates, and origins of dioecy in the island flora of New Caledonia. International Journal of Plant Sciences 175:271-286.
  • Schlessman, M.A. 2010. Major events in the evolution of sexual systems in Apiales: ancestral andromonoecy abandoned. Plant Diversity and Evolution 128:233-245.
  • Schlessman, M.A., *N. Underwood, *T. Watkins, *L. M. Graceffa, & *D. Cordray. 2004. Functions of staminate flowers in andromonoecious Pseudocymopterus montanus (Apiaceae, Apioideae). Plant Species Biology 19:1-12. 
  • Schlessman, M.A., *N. Underwood, & *L. Graceffa. 1996. Floral phenology of sex-changing dwarf ginseng. American Midland Naturalist 135:144-152.
  • Schlessman, M.A. 1982. Expression of andromonoecy and pollination of tuberous lomatiums (Umbelliferae). Systematic Botany 7:134-139.

Photos

Download images for non-commercial use, photo credit required.

Photo: Courtesy Mark Schlessman. Dr S in Iceland with Angelica.
Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College
  • PhD, Botany, University of Washington
  • MS, Botany, University of Washington
  • BA, Biology, Colorado College

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist who loves plants. I am especially interested in the ways that angiosperms distribute stamens and pistils among their flowers in order to specialize more on either the male or the female component of reproductive success. Specifically, I focus on andromonoecious plants, those that produce both bisexual and male flowers. My favorite plants are those in the parsley family (Apiaceae), ginseng family (Araliaceae), and spider flower family (Cleomaceae). I’ve studied these plants (and others) in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, and Northeastern US; New Zealand; and New Caledonia. I’m also working on a flora of the Vassar College Ecological Preserve and on digitizing the Vassar College Herbarium.

Teaching Interests

I am semi-retired, teaching half time. I offer a Plant Biodiversity intensive (BIOL 393) each semester through spring 2022, and will teach Ecology and Evolution of Sexual Reproduction (BIOL 355) fall semester 2021.

Other Interests

I co-chair the College Arboretum Committee and oversee our class tree program.