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UNT Insider | May 2012 issue | Photography professor earns Guggenheim Fellowship

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Photography professor earns Guggenheim Fellowship

From a UNT News Service press release

Dornith Doherty

Dornith Doherty

Dornith Doherty, professor of photography, has been awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation -- making her one of 181 scholars, artists and scientists in North America to receive a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the 88th annual competition.

The fellows -- representing the United States and Canada -- were chosen from a field of about 3,000 applicants. Doherty plans to use the fellowship to complete her Archiving Eden project in which she takes photographs and uses X-ray machines to capture images of seeds and cloned plants at international seed banks. She then incorporates the X-ray images into digital collages.

"I am absolutely thrilled to have received the fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation," she says. "To be counted among the fellows of this institution is a profound honor."

Doherty began Archiving Eden in 2008, inspired by the construction of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault -- dubbed the "doomsday vault" -- which secures the world's seed collections from natural disaster or catastrophe. In 2010, she was one of only a few people allowed to visit the remote Svalbard vault in Norway, where she took documentary-style photographs. She also visited the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo., and the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex, England, where she used the on-site X-ray machines to photograph seeds and plants. With the Guggenheim Fellowship, she plans to expand her project by photographing important national seed banks in Australia, Brazil and Russia.

"The dual nature of Archiving Eden, which includes view camera and X-ray photographs made concurrently, serves to illuminate the complexity of the issues surrounding the role of science, technology and human agency in relation to gene banking," Doherty says. In this era of climate change and declining biodiversity, seed banks play a vital role in ensuring the survival of genetic diversity in wild and agricultural species. Archiving Eden is dedicated to bringing attention to this important and timely issue."

Doherty, who joined the UNT faculty in 1996, was named one of the first faculty fellows of UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts in the 2009-2010 academic year.

"It is such a pleasure to have Professor Doherty on the faculty," says Robert Milnes, dean of UNT’s College of Visual Arts and Design. "We are all very proud of her and her work. She is a constant innovator and dedicated member of the faculty and university community." 

Ellen Rossetti with UNT News Service can be reached at

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May 2012

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