Research Grants

Some of the activities both past and current funded by the AIS Foundation are outlined below:

In 1971, the American Iris Society Foundation (AISF) was established and became a tax-exempt organization shortly thereafter. In its early years, with the energetic leadership of Presidents Hugo Wall and William Bledsoe, quick progress was made in building up Foundation funds. The drive originated and directed by one of the First Foundation funds. The drive originated and directed by one of the first Foundation Trustees, Helen McCaughey, was especially productive.

The first project that the AISF financed was the publishing of a revision of Garden Irises (later titled The World of Irises). The Foundation made money available for publication costs by an interest-free loan to AIS. As the loan was repaid from sales of the book, funds were made available for the next undertaking. Its revision encompasses progress made since its original publication in 1959 and marks a milestone perhaps unequalled in its field.

The Foundation gives grants and loans. The grants are given to organizations and individuals who are doing research with iris or a related field. Loans are given only to sections of the AIS for the purpose of getting books printed on iris or related subjects.

During the first decade (1971 to 1980), AISF funded many other projects including (but not limited to) the following:

Society for Siberian Irises in support of their book that was published in 1981
Alabama A & M University project, supported jointly by the Foundation and Region 24, investigating soft rot of irises. The initial results of this research were reported in the July 1981 Bulletin.

In 1999, based on information from the AISF Activity Report, some past awardees and projects supported by the Foundation included:

University of Georgia for the collection and classification of irises. University of Nebraska and University of Iowa for research on the causes of scorch. Louisiana State University for genetic research on the relationships among Louisiana iris species and interspecific hybrids. University of California for research on Pacific Coast native Irises. University of Maryland Japanese Iris Society for publication of book on Japanese Irises. Cornell University/Dr. Currier McEwen for research on diseased of Japanese and Siberian irises, utlizing electron microscopy. Dr. James Waddick for collecting and research on irises in China. Dr. George Rodionenko for studies on new species of iris occuring in Siberia.

In addition to the above listing, the Foundation:

Supports the AIS Library through the binding of AIS bulletins and funding for computer, copying, scanning and printing equipment. These activities were supported in part from the Evelyn Jones Memorial Library Fund.
Adminsters the award for the Ackerman Youth Essay Contest. The Youth Essay Contest is still handled by the Youth Chairman but the Foundation sets up the committee to judge the entries and then makes the awards available to the Youth Chairman, who in turn awards them to the individuals. In the past, an award of $100.00 had been given to only one AIS Youth member. In year 2000, the AISF made two Youth divisions based on age. Therefore, two $100.00 awards are given. The two age categories are age 12 and under, and age 13 through age 18.

In 2002, based on information from the AISF Activity Report, recipients of funded projects (new and previous recipients) include:

Dr. Arnis Seriums to study the Juno Irises in Syria. This study would include: proposed studies in the field, collecting herbarium, and molecular and cytogenetic work on living material that would likely contribute significantly to the future monograph on subgenus Scorpiris as well as a taxonomic revision of them for Flora of Syria.
Dr. Yuval Sapir for the study of Oncocyclus populations in Israel. Because of the human population growth, many of the areas that are home to various Oncocyclus species are being destroyed. Dr. Sapir plans to cultivate plants of all Oncocyclus species of Israel in a common garden.
Dr. George Ivanovich Rodionenko has been busy this last year preparing many articles for publication and the foundation wishes to continue to suppor him in his work. His contact information is:

Dr. George Ivanovich Rodionenko
Serdobolskaja str. 9-36
St. Petersburg, 197343

His submitted articles include:

Iris lactea, a mysterious species
Iris laevigata, the nodal speciesl of Laevigatae series
— Iris ruthenica
Iris setosa
Gems of the Trans Caucasian Flora
Mongolian Academy of Sciences: Finance a trip to bring back seeds and plants of I. uniflora and I. laevigata. The trip is scheduled for Spring, 2002.
Maretta Colasante for translation of iris papers from German, French and Italian into English.
Nina Alexeeva to fund a trip to Britian to examine herbarium specimens at Kew Gardens and the British Museum, and to fund collection of specimens in Russia.
Continued financial support of AIS Library, Dallas Iris Society, and Eckerman Essay Contest.

In 2005, based on information from the AISF Activity Report, recipients of funded projects included:

Dr. George Ivanovich Rodionenko has been busy these last years preparing many articles for publication and the foundation wished to continue to support him in his work. His submitted articles include:

Iris lactea, a mysterious species //Signa, 2005, N 75, p. 3734-3737
— Life of Seed // Signa, N 75, 3795-3805
— The Life of Rhizomes // The Iris Year book, 2005, p 38-49
Carol Wilson (Portland State University). Continuing support for her molecular systematics/phylogentics project. Her goal was to collect five species, most occur in China. Part of her research includes extraction of DNA, ITS sequential data collection, MatK sequential data, TRnL-trnF sequential data and PsbM-tranD sequential data.

She has made considerable progress on her “The Genus Iris website.” It can be viewed at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden homepage.

Carol was able to visit with the AIS Foundation in person at the Portland National Convention.
Milan Blazek (Pruhonice/Prague) Continuing support over a two year period to travel to various places to study, collect and confer with experts.

In 2006, the AIS Foundation continued to suport Carol Wilson, Milan Blazek, and George Rodionenko.

In 2007, the AIS Foundation entered into two new and exciting adventures. One was the settlement of the Sid DuBose estate. The purpose of the Trust from this acquistion is the support an iris library. The nature of the activity was not further defined. Settlement was finalized the following year.

The other event was the naming of the AIS Foundation as the benefactor of the Presby Gardens in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Linda Sercus, director of teh Presby Memorial Iris Gardens met with the AISF Trustees to explain the circumstances. Ms. Sercus explained that the Citizen Committe of the Presby Memorial Iris Garden is the parent organization that has become the caretaker of the garden. It was formed as a non-profit organization 80 years ago. As with all organizations, there must be by-laws and one of the by-laws must include a designated person or organization that would receive all assets if the gardens were dissolved.

The reason is two fold. Both the AIS and the Presby gardens share the same parentage. John Wister and Frank Presby, two of the first officers of the AIS, are the reasons why the Presby garden exists. So, it is only logical that we form some sort of relationship. Secondly, the iris collection, although new additions are added yearly, is probably the largest collection of historical iris in the world. The breadth and depth of this collection is incalculable. Therefore, it make sense for the Foundation to work with all of the sections of the AIS, including HIPS, to disburse these historical iris if and when necessary. Linda went on to ask the Foundation to consider such an offer of being the benefactor of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.

AIS Foundation continues to support Carol Wilson, George Rodionenko, Yuval Sapir, and Amy Bouck.

In 2008, the Sid DuBose trust was in the final stages of settlement, with Phil Edinger as the trustee and Bob Plank s the appointed co-trustee. Again, the purpose of the Trust is to support an iris library.

AISF continues to support Carol Wilson with her genetics research in the world of iris. Also funded was Noland Martin and Sunni Taylor ( one of Martin’s graduate studends) who are working with Louisiana Iris species.

In 2009, AISF decided to support the research of John Kaufmann and teh effects of herbicides on weeds and the iris plants in order to discover selective control for weeds among modern herbicides.

Update information was presented on the Sid DuBose Estate. The money from this estate is to be used to support an iris library. A committee of two AISF members and two AIS members was established to continue evaluating property and information for a combined AISF-AIS library. The principle of this estate is not to be invaded. The interest, payable at least every six months, is to be used for the “specific purpose of supporting an Iris Libary.”

In 2010, AISF distributed the full amount of the Dallas Scholarship Fund to the Iris Society of Dallas, which was a $23,000 distribution This was done to aid our standing with federal required income distribution and to reduce our average cash assests.

In the past, AISF administed the Dallas Iris Society’s Scholarship Trust which provided support for deserving students in the Dallas area to study horticulture. Each year, the Dallas Iris Society sent the recipent name to AISF. In return, AISF utilized interest earned from their funds, to send a check to the scholarship recipient. The Dallas Society hoped to contribute to the AISF fund until it become self-perpetuating. In the past, the Dallas Society gave a check for the balance of the amount awarded.

Also in 2010, AISF looked into becoming a non-private foundation. One idea was entertained for the future of AISF and AIS together and that all donations to both the AIS Foundation and to AIS itself be made through the Foundation. This has now come to pass. AISF remains a Private non-operating Foundation, rather than a Public Foundation at this time.

Also in 2010, AISF began funding the scanning and digitalizing back issues of the AIS Bulletin with a final format that is searchable as a database.

Also in 2010, AISF received a report from Sunni J. Taylor on Divergence in sympatry: mechanical pollinator isolation as a mechanism for hybrid speciation. Current grants included Carol Wilson, Noland Martin, and a student of Martin’s, John Kaufman, and Suni Taylor. Grant fundings into 2013 included John Kaufman’s project with week herbicide, Sunni Taylor, Dr. Carol Wilson, and the AIS archival bulletin project.

In 2011, a proposal and future grant request from a film student at the University of Arizona was made. The student found several reels of old color films from the 1930s in excellent condition. Jill Bonino noted that a portion of these films may be well used in a feature about the 100th anniversary of the AIS. More information is needed about this project.

Also in 2011, Tracy Plotner, the AIS Librarian, sent a letter describing the poor conditions of the current Library being there was not enough space. There is need for more filing cabinets but no space for them at this time. Also, when it rains, the Libary which is in a basement, always floods and damage to precious historical documents can happen. The library is only available on week days. It is not avaiable for use in the evenings or weekends or on holidays. The current location has been in use for 12 to 15 years It is past time to seek a solution. A proposal was made to move the library to a better location as soon as possible. A nearby vacant property was for sale and was investigated as a possiblity but this idea went on the wayside.

Also in 2011, Dave Silverberg became the newly appointed AIS Librarian taking over from Tracy Plotner due to illness.

In 2012, Linda Sercus gave a presentation about Presby Gardens in New Jersey, and the possibility of housing the AIS library in that location. Presby Gardens is not part of the Essex County Park System.

On May 13, 2012, the library was moved from it’s location in Silverton, Oregon, to Molalla, Oregon. It is located in a rental property in the upstairs loft. There is more room which was much needed. Plotner, family members, and Dave Silverbergmoved the Library.

Also in 2012, there was the approval of Alexeeva grant, via Jim Waddick, in association to update the iris portion of the St. Petersburg Botanic Garden in Russia.

In 2013, the AISF discussed the need for a name for the library. Also discussed in relationship to the library was the accessioin and deaccession policies. A committee with Ron Kosner, Will Plotner, Dave Silverberg, Gary White, adn Jim Morris are working on this project. The funding for this library cost comes from the Sid DuBose Trust income, rather than from the Foundation general funds.

In 2014, it was disclosed that combining the income from AIS into the AIS Foundation income has made a positive difference for both bodies.  At this time we only had $500.00 outstanding on projects.  There are two reports back.  One from Jenna Hamlin for her research with I. fulva and I. brevicaulis.  It is ready for publication.  The other project is Dr. Nolin Martin and Sonny Taylor on Louisiana iris.

David Silverberg and Ron Cosner were present to represent the AIS Library.  Along with Gary White the three were able to meet and make some decisions about projects for the Library of what needs to be scanned and what needs to be recycled to another portal.  Dave said that he and Will Plotner will be re-negotiating the rental of the building in the early summer.

In 2015
, there was much business at the Portland National Convention in May, 2015.

1.  Over that last few months most all Certificate of Deposits have been converted to cash for two main reason:  (1) there will be a change of Treasurers in the near future and (2) there is little interest money being drawn on the CDs.

2.  The Internal Revenue Service requirement to spend around $28,000 annually on projects over a five year period is up this year and we have done well in meeting the requirement for 501(C)3 and other regulatory requirements.

3.  The winners of the Ackerman Essay Contest were given by Carol Warner.   There were only two entries for the Senior Division, but over 40 entries for the Junior Division.  Carol sends a certificate of participation and an iris rhizomes to all entrants.  This year, due to so many junior entries, she sought help from other iris growers to help supply the iris rhizomes.  Price and Silverberg are helping by donating iris rhizomes.

4.  There was a report from Price about the AIS Foundation website problems.  The web site had hacking and malware problems.  A new platform needed to be purchased and another search program applied to the website for future protection.

5.  The AIS Library was represented by David Silverberg.  A committee comprised of Silverberg, Ron Cosner, Gary White, Jill Bonino, and Jody Nolin was formed and quarterly reports are to be filed by Silverberg.  The biggest complaint voiced is the lack of space in the library to accommodate all of the catalogues and brochures.  There also needs to be a complete inventory of all documents.  Silverberg was advised to make contact with college students with in interest in Library Science to help with this project.  There are three copies of the book The Genus Iris in the Library.  One copy will be put up for sale.  In the past, multiple copies of the AIS Bulletins were required to be on file (five copies each).  Due to electronic copies of the Bulletins, multiple copies of 1969 and newer will no longer be accepted by the Library.  A traveling Library was discussed and negated due to the cost of postage and the possible loss of property during the shipping process.  The AIS secretary has been remiss in providing a copy of spring and fall AIS Board meetings to the Library for storage.  A name for the Library was motioned and seconded.  It was voted to name the Library:  American Iris Society Hager-DuBose Memorial Library.  It was founded January, 1920.  A logo for the Library will be studied.  Interest income from the Hager-DuBose estate is used to fund the Library rental property at this time.Along with the Library discussion was information from John I. Jones.  He discussed the extensive scanning of bulletins – AIS Bulletins and section bulletins.  He utilizes a company which scans the literature without tearing apart the bulletins.  The fee for non-destructible scanning is higher than if the bulletins could be torn apart.  John stated that “we have scanned and uploaded to the AIS Historic Catalog Archive website all of the catalogs from 1909 thru 1949.  The 1950 catalogs and part of the 1960’s catalog scans are in hand, and will be uploaded upon his return from the convention.  What remains is the rest of the 1960’s, the 1970’s and the 1980’s.”  Jones explained that he exceeded his $6900.00 funding by approximately $620.00.  Jones sought from the AIS Foundation an additional $10,000.00 for this project.  It was motioned, voted, and passed to give Jones $6,000 in 2015, and $4,000 in 2016 for this project.  Also John I. Jones is to look up a policy in previous AIS minutes about the keeping of two copies of all magazines and five copies of all AIS Bulletins.   With the advent of the electronic age, these policies should be changed and allow more room in the Library for storage of such papers.Bob Pries also talked about the AIS Encyclopedia.

6.  There has been no report from Taylor/Martin.

7.  The work of Hamlin-Arnold with the Louisiana iris was paid $6,000 in full and is keeping good communication with us.

8.  Erin Riggs grant was finished being paid and he will be speaking at the Siberian convention in Portland this year. 

9.  Bob Pries had a $500 grant approved but not used it yet.  He will either use it in the future or may transfer it to Janet Smith instead.  Pries receives $1000 annually for scanning for the Wiki.

10. The A. Floden and J. Waddick project received a $1,000 grant from the AIS Foundation to obtain, transfer from India to the United States, and grow a new species of iris.  A multi-page handout was received by the AISF board members.  The attempt to seize the new iris species was successful.  The seizure happened in Arunachal Pradesh (AP), India.  Climates ranged from subtropical to alpine and even tundra.  We all appreciated the great efforts taken to seize this new species of iris in torrential rainfall, impassable road conditions, and insects.  Travel was led by Peter Boardman.  The explorers mailed their plant material at some expense by EMS, Express Mail Service which should have arrived in seven days.  Instead it took nearly two weeks.  Then it was delayed again for four more days, before arriving in the United States for a fifteen day delay.  It arrived in Miami, Florida where it did pass customs.  Only one plant survived the ordeal of travel, but it was not the new species of iris they were hoping to seize.  The trip was a complete failure.  A lot of time, money and efforts went into the rugged and dangerous travel with little to show for it other than pictures of the precious new species.  Hopefully there will be another attempt made in the spring of 2015.  A request for $3,000 to cover expenses has been requested from the Atlanta Botanic Garden for another India trip.  It was decided that AIS Foundation is not obligated to pay this amount unless there is successful achievement in collection, transportation and propagation of this iris species in America. 

11.  Carol Wilson’s project has been completed with awards going to the Regents of the University of California in Berkeley, CA.  Wilson made a new proposal for the Systematic Studies of subgenera Xiphium and Hermodactyloides and Related Taxa Utilizing Next-Generation Sequencing and Morphology. She will be extracting DNA material and quantifying it by gel electrophoresis and fluorescence.  This sequencing is more expensive and more precise than the identifications that Wilson has previously done for AIS Foundation and American Iris Society.  Wilson proposed a budget for Year 1 (2015/16) for $9085, Year 2 (2016/17) for $2528.00, and Year 3 (2017/18) for $1065.  This is a total budget of $12,678.  The first year expenses is due to the preparation work of the DNA kits.  AIS Foundation has worked with Wilson on several projects and voted to continue supporting her efforts to classify iris according to DNA techniques.  All three years have been approved by the board.

12.  Janet Smith is seeking monetary support of a slide scanner.  She has been using a flatbed which scans four slides at a time which takes about 3-5 minutes per scan.  She wants to upgrade to a scanner with options of 50 to 100 slides at a time instead.  She has scanned nearly 11,000 photos since 2011.  She has over 5,000 more to do plus all of the Schreiner’s, Larry Harder, Glenn Corlew, Terry Aitken, and Bob Plank slide collections and perhaps more.  The board voted to allow Smith $2200 for her scanner and the postage for shipment.

13.  Re-wording of the Bylaws was discussed and voted to refine it.

14.  Discussion was made about doing an audit of the books since there will be a treasurer change next year.  This will be at least $5,000 cost for a simple audit and a complete comprehensive audit would cost about $10,000.

15.  Reelection of officers – Hollingworth, White, and Price expire in 2015.  All were re-elected.  White will be replaced by Jill Bonino in the near future.  Dorothy Willott does not wish to be re-elected after the New Jersey convention in 2016.