Zachary J. Hudson
My name is Zachary Hudson and I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Horticulture. I was born in Beloit, WI, and completed by undergraduate degree in biology from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Dec. 2013. I am honored to hold the J. Frank Schmidt Graduate Scholarship.
In my research I am exploring how the anatomical and physical characteristics of bark explains the ethnobotanical use of Dirca (Leatherwood) species. The genus Dirca consists of four species with strong, fibrous, tear-resistant bark. These characteristics explain why the genus is known as leatherwood, thongwood, and ropewood. The common names suggest the plant was used to make cordage and one species, Dirca palustris, has been documented to be used in such a way. Using microscopy techniques, I will characterize and compare the anatomy of the bark (defined as all tissues outside the xylem) of all species of Dirca, and make comparisons to taxonomically and ecologically allied species. With an Instron 4500 Universal Testing Machine, I will quantify the tensile properties of the bark tissue of all species of Dirca, and make comparisons to taxonomically and ecologically allied species. Through participant observation with the Muwekma-Ohlone and Coast Miwok tribes of California and other tribes east of the Mississippi River, I will document if the other three species have been used to make cordage, if so, how (harvesting, preparation, curing, techniques), if not, could they be?
I love the diversity of disciplines at Iowa State. I am able to bring together three disciples (Botany, Anthropology, and Material Science) for my dissertation.