Digital Collections

Making Kew's Herbarium and Fungarium collections digitally accessible and managing our collections databases.

Volunteer stood at a PC in the Herbarium

Team lead: Dr Sarah W Phillips

Kew houses one of the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world with over 8.5 million specimens which possess crucial information for scientific research.

Our ongoing goal is to open our doors and cabinets by giving virtual access to these extraordinary collections via our Digitisation Project.

The Digital Collections team actively images specimens as a result of external requests, routine curatorial activity and as a product of several projects which focus on those plants which are either at risk, or of potential economic importance.

The first digitisation project began in 2004 and since then technological innovations and studies into workflow efficiency have allowed digitisation rates to increase while still maintaining a high level of quality. 

Alongside digitising Kew’s collections, we curate the Herbarium Catalogue, importing specimen records and answering enquiries from scientists all over the world to whom we then supply high-resolution images and specimen data. 

Our team also manages the transfer of specimen data to other aggregator sites including: JSTOR Global Plants, Europeana, GBIF and the Reflora Virtual Herbarium. The sharing of our resources via these platforms helps support our mission of providing access to our collections to as many people as possible.

Finally, we provide expert knowledge, both within Kew and externally to other organisations, to train staff, volunteers and visitors in digitisation techniques including setting up imaging workstations and digitisation programmes.

We also use crowdsourcing activities to actively engage the public with our collections. We encourage volunteers to assist with the transcription of specimen labels online as well as running transcription events with the aim of increasing the size of our online volunteer community.

Team members

Research leader
Dr Sarah Phillips

Lead Digitisation Operations Manager
Marie-Hélène Weech

Data and Imaging Manager
Laura Green

Lab-Based Collections Assistant
Alicia Musson

Fungarium Operations Manager
Nathan Smith

Project Support Officer
Sidrah Ikram

Digitisation Volunteer Coordinator
Amy Trafford

Digital Collections Support Officer
Ashleigh Whittaker

Digital Collections New Acquisitions Manager
Ellie Graves

Imaging Support Officer
Jonny Davies

Quality Assurance Officer & Team Leader
Dr Marco Pellegrini

Data Managers
Nelida Ballesteros
Ellie Graves
Wiebke Hillebrecht
Priscila Reis

Quality Assurance Officers
Julia Carretero
Shaheenara Chowdhury
Hannah Kennedy
Holly Martin
Dr Kristen Martin
Laura Pearce 

Senior Curator Botanists (digitisation)
Alison Moore
Clare Drinkell
Priscila Reis

Digitisation Officers
Edward Dearberg
Dr Rinku Desai
Louie Falls
Lily Flood
Emily Lee
Rachel McCarthy
Camilo Mejia
James Whittaker

  • Innovation and Consolidation for large scale digitisation of natural heritage (ICEDIG)
  • Supporting research in food security and timber management in tropical ODA-listed countries
  • Digitising Kew’s Fungarium 2017 (building an evidence base to monitor change in British fungi)
  • Synthesys Plus