Scientific Staff

Matthew Lobdell, MS/MBA

Curator and Head of Collections

Content Detail

As Curator of the Arboretum’s living plant collections, Matt focuses on the selection and evaluation of plant species for cultivation across the grounds of the Arboretum.

Matt’s work is aimed at building the Arboretum’s nationally accredited collections in maples (Acer), magnolia, crabapples (Malus), oaks (Quercus), lindens (Tilia), and elms (Ulmus) through germplasm collection and other related activities.

He also utilizes the Arboretum’s collections as a living gene bank, cultivating endangered or rare species through ex-situ conservation. He has completed projects targeting both pyramid magnolia (Magnolia fraseri var. pyramidata) and Oglethorpe oak (Quercus oglethorpensis).

Matt has served as Curator of The Morton Arboretum since 2014. During his tenure, he has revised the Collections Master Plan, leading renovations in accordance with its primary tenets of minimizing esoteric and underperforming plant collections, while maximizing those of highest mission alignment. Matt is also active in plant exploration, having completed 11 collaborative seed collecting expeditions throughout North America, the South Caucuses, and China. 

Matt regularly participates in and leads seed collecting expeditions across the United States and the world, most recently returning from a 2016 trip to the Republic of Georgia.

Matt helped oversee the transition of The Morton Arboretum collections database to the BRAHMS (Botanical Records and Herbarium Management System) platform, and serves on the BRAHMS Advisory Group, where he lends his experience managing the Arboretum’s living collections to help improve the platform. Matt serves as the Group Coordinator of the Plant Collections Network Magnolia Multisite Collection, where he helps the group reach goals such as conducting gap analyses and acquiring priority taxa.

Matt has also assisted with the development of revised interpretive content for the Arboretum’s priority collections.


MS and MBA, Organizational Behavior and Management

Benedictine University
Lisle, IL

MS, Plant and Soil Science

University of Delaware
Newark, DE

BA, Anthropolgy

Kenyon College
Gambier, OH

  • International Cultivar Registration Authority for the Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family) and Ulmaceae (Elm Family)
  • Plant Collections Network Multisite Quercus Collection Coordinator, American Public Gardens Association
  • Vice President, Magnolia Society International

Projects (10)

Collections Research

Collections Master Plan

The Morton Arboretum’s plant collections are recognized as some of the most significant collections of cold-hardy trees and shrubs worldwide. They are open to the public for study and exploration, and are frequently used for formal research projects and educational courses. This plan provides a strategic framework for collections development, with the goal of improving their diversity, maintenance, and visitor experience well into the Arboretum’s second hundred years.

Read more