Head of Collections and Curator, Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL
Growing up in West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, Matthew Lobdell was surrounded by scenic landscapes which instilled in him a love for the natural world. During his last year as an Anthropology student at Kenyon College, he accepted a summer internship at Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha’s Vineyard. His experience at Polly Hill exposed him to a wide array of unique plants and introduced him to the merits of a career in horticulture. Matt continued to develop his horticultural knowledge at Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University as a Grounds Maintenance Intern and Horticulture Apprentice, a Collections Management Intern at Polly Hill Arboretum, and a horticulturist for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.
Through his collections internship at Polly Hill which provided a window into a career of curation, Matt decided to pursue higher education to gain the educational experience needed to become a curator. During his time as UDBG’s Curatorial Assistant, he gained experience in mapping, accessioning, inventorying, and researching plants in the collection. In addition, he took a wide variety of courses in the plant science and museum studies departments and taught the lab portions of several undergraduate courses. His thesis discussed the merits of the underused genus Styrax and included information on the distribution and performance of the genus throughout gardens in the United States, a discussion of lab work to determine the chromosome number of Styrax japonicus, and the anatomical differences helpful for identifying commonly confused species.
After graduating from University of Delaware, Matt was hired to work at the Moore Farms Botanical Garden in South Carolina to manage the research they conduct on green roofs. He eventually moved into the position of Plant Recorder at Moore Farms before accepting a position as Head of Collections and Curator at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. In addition to his curatorial duties to oversee the proper naming and recording of plants in the arboretum, he directs a team of horticulturists who are responsible for maintaining the collection. He leads or participates in wild collecting trips, including trips around the United States and recently abroad to Georgia and Azerbaijan. He also hasn’t lost his ties with the place that sparked his love of horticulture. As a Research Associate at Polly Hill Arboretum, Matt volunteers to help the arboretum further develop its collection and research hybrid oaks on Martha’s Vineyard.