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Dr Shelley A. James

Manager Collections


Dr Shelley James has been a botanical research scientist for more than two decades. Her research has taken her to the far reaches of the globe to see and explore some of the world’s most fascinating ecosystems. 

Shelley earned a Bachelor of Science (Hons 1st class) from the University of Western Australia in 1993. Her love of botany was clearly sparked and she immediately enrolled in a PhD the following year. 

Upon completing her PhD, Shelley was appointed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Botany, with the University of Hawaii. Shelley subsequently worked in the Herbarium Pacificum and the Pacific Center for Molecular Biodiversity at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Before taking her current position as the Collections Manager of the National Herbarium of NSW, Shelley was the iDigBio Data Management Coordinator with the Florida Museum of Natural History. It was here that she was databasing and became the principal investigator on several digitisation grants at the Bishop Museum.  

Her most recent work has remained focused on digital herbarium data and how we can best analyze, contribute to and understand that data to better our conservation efforts both in Australia and around the world including documenting the diversity of the flora of New Guinea. 

"I'm looking forward to 2019 - a new year of science, excitement, and new discoveries as the National Herbarium of NSW collections are imaged and the new CIPS building at Mt Annan takes shape."

Research Interests

From the rainforest of New Guinea to the mountain tops of Hawaii, I have been a research scientist for more than 20 years. As the Manager Collections for the National Herbarium of NSW, I work with the collections team and botanists to maintain, curate and preserve the more than 1.4 million preserved plant specimens housed at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, making the data and images available to all online.  As a botanist, my research focus is the flora of the Pacific, particularly New Guinea and Melanesia. I collaborate nationally and internationally with collections, research, cyberinfrastructure, and education communities.

Current Projects

  • Diversity of the flora of Melanesia
  • Management of botanical research collections using international standards of best practice