JASON RICHARD SWALLEN

Photo of Jason SwallenPhoto of Jason Swallen 

Jason was born May 1, 1903, in Alliance, Ohio. He earned an AB degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1924 and an MS degree from Kansas State Agricultural College in 1925, doing a thesis on the Ranales of Kansas. He spent two summers at the Michigan University Biological Station. In 1954, he was awarded an honorary DSc degree by his Ohio Alma Mater.

In 1925, he started as a junior botanist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving under the great agrostologists, A. S. Hitchcock and Agnes Chase. He collected in California in 1927, and from the Southwest United States to Yucatan, Mexico, in 1928, 1931, and 1932. After the sudden death of A. S. Hitchcock in 1935, he began actively publishing with Agnes Chase. In 1936, he published on the grasses of Honduras and Peten ( Guatemala) and was promoted to assistant botanist and then associate botanist. From 1943 to 1945, he was agricultural production officer in the State Department (Office of Inter-American Affairs), serving in Brazil. In 1947, he became the curator of the Division of Grasses at the Smithsonian and became chairman of the Botany Department (head curator) in 1950, responsibilities he served until his retirement in 1965. After retirement he lived in Florida, Maryland, and Ohio.

Two grass genera, Swallenia Soderstrom and Decker and Swallenochloa McClure, were named for him, as well as a number of species, the first being Eragrostis swallenii A. S. Hitchcock and the last Festuca swallenii Alexeev. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Botanical Society of Washington, the Cosmos Club, and the Explorers Club.

He married Leona Winifred Smith on June 10, 1929. They had one daughter, Ester. He was married a second time to Clara Brazel on August 28, 1955. On April 22, 1991, Jason died in Delaware, Ohio, about 6 months after his second wife passed away.

Jason was elected to the Washington Biologists' Field Club in 1932, served as treasurer, president from 1948 to 1951, and was awarded an honorary membership in 1974.