Associate Curator of Botany
The Academy of Natural Sciences
Rick McCourt earned his undergraduate degree in botany at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. His research on green algae helped answer a long-standing question about the evolution of land plants from aquatic ancestors. (Use the Search utility in Discovering Lewis & Clark to find the term phycology, which is the title of Dr. McCourt's discussion of the aromatic algae in the expedition's most famous "sulphur spring.") One of his first major undertakings at the Academy of Natural Sciences was to lead a project to renovate the storage conditions of the Lewis and Clark Herbarium. He has coauthored several articles on the history and scientific uses of the collection, and coordinated presentations of the specimens at venues around the country.
Earlier in his professional career he worked at WGBH in Boston as a staff reporter, and became a regular freelancer for National Public Radio, reporting on topics ranging from the search for new planets and solar systems to the medicinal uses of leeches.