Dr. Robert I. Lonard
Bachelor of Science in Education 1964
Master of Science in Biology 1966
As a young college student, Dr. Robert I. Lonard came to ESU from Valley Falls, Kansas in 1960. His experiences in botany classes changed the direction of his life and guided him to a lifelong interest in plant taxonomy and plant ecology. Dr. Lonard was an undergraduate teaching assistant and later a graduate teaching assistant in Dr. James S. Wilson’s and Jack Carter’s plant labs. His friend and contemporary student was Melinda Denton. He received a BSE degree in 1964 and an MS degree in 1966 from ESU, and he earned his Ph.D. in plant systematics from Texas A&M University in 1970. While at Texas A&M he was a GTA for botany and he served as Assistant Curator for the Tracy Herbarium. Following graduation, Dr. Lonard accepted a faculty position at The University of Texas - Pan American in Edinburg, Texas where he achieved the rank of Full Professor, served as Department Chair for two years, and, after a 34 year career, he retired in 2004. Dr. Lonard continues his appointment at the university as a Research Professor. The author of 89 scientific publications, he also secured 24 grants during his long career, and he successfully mentored a number of graduate students. Dr. Lonard has won numerous awards for research and faculty excellence. He is the author of four books on plants, Guide to the Grasses of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas in 1993, Field Guide to the Broad-leaved Herbaceous Plants of South Texas in 1999, Trees, Shrubs, and Cacti of South Texas in 2003, and Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico: a guide to identification in 2007. Dr. Lonard continues to be active in wetland research, flora and vegetation of southern Texas including barrier ecology, remote sensing of the Rio Grande floodplain vegetation, and analysis of resaca vegetation in southern Texas. He credits his student days at Emporia State for inspiring his distinguished career.
Illustration by Iralee Barnard
Photos by [left to right] Greg Sievert