Dr. Mark Tebbitt


Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Sciences


Dr. Tebbitt's research interests focus on plant systematics, which involves the naming, classification and evolution of plants. His particular specialty involves systematic research on the tropical plant genus Begonia. Previous to working at PennWest California, he was head of the Horticultural Taxonomy Department at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City from 1998 to 2007. And before moving to the United States, he worked at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, as a research consultant on the European Garden Flora project and at the University of Glasgow on a post-doctoral research project on the taxonomy of the orchid genus Epipactis. He has given numerous public and scientific talks and has published more than 75 peer-reviewed papers on several aspects of systematic botany. In recent years, he has published two books, one on Begonia (2005) and the other on the bleeding-heart family (2008). Both were published by Timber Press. He has also carried out botanical fieldwork in Andean South America, Asia, North America, Hawaii, and the United Kingdom.


  • General Botany
  • Evolution
  • Plant Taxonomy
  • Plant Anatomy

Affiliated PennWest California Departments

Dr. Tebbitt has team-taught a course, Biological Illustration: Form and Function, with Maggy Aston from the Department of Art and Design and has team-taught with Dr. Summer Arrigo-Nelson, also in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, study-abroad in Madagascar.

Research Interests

Dr. Tebbitt is interested in the naming, classification, conservation and evolution of plants. His current research is focusing on learning how members of the genus Begonia colonized Andean South America and what factors influenced their speciation and current day distribution. Closer to home, he is updating a checklist of the plants found in Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County, Pa.

Student Research Projects

Most of Dr. Tebbitt's current and past research involves undergraduate students: Examples of projects and publications that included undergraduate students (denoted in bold) include:

  • Tebbitt, M.C., L.L. Forrest, A. Santoriello, W. L. Clement, and S.M. Swensen. 2006. Phylogenetic relationships of Asian Begonia, with an emphasis on the evolution of rain-ballist and animal dispersal mechanisms in sections Platycentrum, Sphenanthera and Leprosae. Systematic Botany.
  • Clement, W.L., M.C. Tebbitt, L.L. Forrest, J.E. Blair, L. Brouillet, T. Eriksson, and S.M. Swensen. 2004. Phylogenetic position and biogeography of Hillebrandia sandwicensis (Begoniaceae): a rare Hawaiian relict. American Journal of Botany. 91(6) 905-917.

Service Learning Projects

Dr. Tebbitt routinely contributes to community-based projects of a botanical and horticultural nature. For example, he assists with various community planting days and maintenance of public annual displays in his hometown and also volunteers in community invasive plant species eradication at local nature reserves. He also judges at the Junior Academy of Sciences local meeting.

In The Classroom

"As a botany professor, I like to incorporate a diverse range of living plants into my classroom and labs. Toward this aim, I maintain the PennWest California greenhouse that contains a collection of about 2,000 living plants, many of which are rare in cultivation. For my upper-level courses such as Plant Taxonomy and Entomology I frequently take my students on field trips to local nature reserves, where they learn about applied aspects of these subjects."

  • B.Sc.: Honors Botany, University of Wales; honors thesis: "A Comparison Between Maritime and Montane Populations of Armeria maritima
  • M.Sc.: Pure and Applied Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, University of Reading, England; thesis: "A Taxonomic Revision of Saxifraga section Irregulares
  • Ph.D.: "A systematic Investigation of Begonia section Sphenanthera” University of Glasgow, Scotland

Email: tebbitt@pennwest.edu

Phone: 724-938-4207

Office: Frich Hall Room 305