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Beryl B. Simpson

CWGS Affiliate FacultyPh. D., Harvard University

Professor in the Plant Resources Center, College of Natural Sciences



an array of studies that deal with the phylogeny and biogeography of various angiosperm groups



  • A.B. (magna cum laude), Radcliffe College, 1964
  • M.A., Harvard University, 1967
  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 1968
  • Postdoc, Harvard University

Research Interests

Dr. Simpson's laboratory is engaged in an array of studies that deal with the phylogeny and biogeography of various angiosperm groups. Taxonomic groups range from monocots to the Asteraceae. Most biogeographic work is directed toward explaining patterns seen in the American Southwest, Mexico, and Central and South America. Methodologies for uncovering evolutionary histories include the use of cpDNA restriction fragment pattern analysis and gene sequencing as well as traditional techniques. The relationships between native solitary bees and their New World hosts are also of interest. Many of these studies have involved the interactions between anthophorid bees and plants with oil-secreting flowers. Other studies concentrate on reward production, foraging behavior, and nest provisioning by native bees.

More information - current graduate students.


  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1964
  • NDEA-IV Predoctoral Fellowship, 1964-1967
  • Sigma Xi, 1965
  • Jesse Greenman Award for the best doctoral dissertation in plant systematics published in 1970
  • Cooley Prize for best paper presented at the Systematic Section of an AIBS meeting, 1971
  • Elected Fellow, American Society of Naturalists, 1981
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1984
  • Phi Kappa Phi, 1991
  • Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1994
  • American Society of Plant Taxonomists' Asa Gray award, 2003

More information - see biographical sketch for list of recent honors, major offices, and professional service.


  • Simpson, B. B., J. A. Tate, and A. Weeks. 2005. The biogeography of Hoffmannseggia (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae, Caesalpinieae): a tale of many travels. Journal of Biogeography 32: 15-27.
  • Simpson, B. B., J. A. Tate, and A. Weeks. 2004. Phylogeny and character evolution of Hoffmannseggia (Caesalpinieae: Caesalpinioideae: Leguminosae). Systematic Botany 29: 933-946.
  • Weeks, A. and B. B. Simpson. 2004. Molecular genetic evidence for interspecific hybridization among Hispaniolan Bursera (Burseraceae). Amer. J. Bot. 91: 975-983.
  • Tate, J. A. and B. B. Simpson. 2004. Breeding system evolution in Tarasa (Malvaceae) and selection for reduced pollen grain size in the polyploid species. American Journal of Botany 91: 207-213.
  • Simpson, B. B., D. M. Helfgott, A. Weeks, and L. L. Larkin. 2004. Species relationships in Krameria (Krameriaceae) based on ITS sequences and morphology: Implications for character utility and biogeography. Systematic Botany 29: 97-108.
  • Simpson, B. B. Krameriaceae. 2004. Pp. 198-200 in N. Smith, S. A. Mori, A. Henderson, D. W. Stevenson, S. V. Heald (eds.) Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
  • Tate, J. A. and B. B. Simpson. 2003. Paraphyly of Tarasa (Malvaceae) and diverse origins of the polyploid species. Syst. Bot. 28: 723-737.
  • Simpson, B. B. L. L. Larkin, and A. Weeks. 2003. Progress towards resolving the relationships of the Caesalpinia group (Caesalpinieae: Caesalpinioideae: Fabaceae). Pp. 123-148 in B. Klitgaard and A. Bruneau (editors). Advances in Legume Systematics X. Higher level Systematics and Biogeography. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond.
  • Helfgott, D.M., J. Francisco-Ortega, A. Santos-Guerra, R.K. Jansen, B.B. Simpson. 2000. Biogeography and breeding system evolution of the woody Bencomia alliance (Rosaceae) in Macaronesia based on ITS sequence data. Syst. Bot. 25:82-97.
  • Simpson, B.B. and A. Salywon. 1999. Krameriaceae. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science:57-61.
  • Simpson, B.B. 1999. A revision of Hoffmannseggia (Fabaceae) in North America. Lundellia 2:14-54.
  • Simpson, B.B. and J. Piper. 1998. Krameriaceae. pp. 373-374 in Martin, P.S., D. Yetman, M. Fishbein, P. Jenkins, T. van Devender, and R.K. Wilson. Gentry's Rio Mayo Plants. Univ. of Arizona Press.
  • Simpson, B.B. 1998. A revision of Pomaria (Fabaceae) in North America. Lundellia 1: 46-71.
  • Simpson, B.B. 1998. Krameriaceae. Flora of the Guianas. Ser. A (21) 126:60-64.

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