Vicki Funk of Death, Obituary : Smithsonian Research Scientist Passed Away

By | September 10, 2021

Vicki Funk of Death, Obituary : Smithsonian Research Scientist Passed Away.

Friends and families are paying tributes on social media to Beloved Vicki Funk who recently passed away.

Vicki Ann was a Senior Research Botanist and Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. She is known for her work on members of the composite family including collecting plants in many parts of the world, as well as her synthetic work on phylogenetics and biogeography.

We learned of the deceased through the following tribute posted on social media.

Cause of Death.

We have no information at the moment on what cause the death of Vicki Funk . This post will be updated as soon as we have that information.


The following are some tributes posted on social media to honor the life and the legacy of the deceased.

Sharing the below notice from NMNH Director, Dr. Kirk Johnson about the passing of our friend and research scientist, Dr. Vicki Funk. The Museum will issue a more formal statement for official notice (and other posting and sharing rather than this) but I know many in my fb circle knew Vicki and I thought you’d appreciate seeing our community notification rather than hearing through the rumor mill.

I’ve known Vicki since my first day in Washington, DC. She has always been a guiding and supportive force, for me and for so so many others. As most know, among my duties, I manage our emeritus and retiree appointments so I often become close to these folks and their passing leaves a void in our community and touches me personally, but generally they have led a long and productive career so it seems part of the inevitable timeline. But for Vicki, she was still mid-stream, with what seemed so much more on the horizon. But it wasn’t meant to be. Cancer diagnosis less than a year ago changed her timeline. Her research will be completed by others. She was such a great mentor and collaborator others will be able to carry on her work and her legacy. Still. We will all greatly miss HER. Our halls today seem a bit more quiet and reflective.

Dear Friends –

It is with a heavy heart and a great sense of personal loss that I share the news that Dr. Vicki Funk passed away yesterday (22 Oct 2019). It is not an overstatement to say that Vicki was a pioneer in her field and a cornerstone of our NMNH community.

Vicki came to the museum in 1981 after having earned her PhD at Ohio State University the previous year. She served as Curator of Asteraceae in the Botany Department for 38 years and as the Director of the Smithsonian’s Biological Diversity of the Guiana Shield Program. I’m also forever grateful that she agreed to serve as the Acting Associate Director for Science in 2018.

She was a prolific researcher serving as lead or contributing author on over 280 publications. Vicki was a mentor to students, early career scientists, and those of us with more established careers. Her professional accolades were many, including being named an AAAS Fellow in 1987 and receiving the Linnaean Society’s Linneaen Medal for Botany and the American Society of Plant Taxonimist’s Asa Gray Award over the past several months.

The past year has been a challenging one for Vicki. The fact that she confronted it head on with strength, dignity, and humor was a surprise to none of us. That is who she was.

I know you join me in extending our deepest sympathies to Vicki’s friends, family, and colleagues around the world and here in our own community. We will all miss her greatly.

As is our custom, we will share a fuller tribute to Vicki in the days ahead and we will announce memorial service details as they become available.

Kirk Johnson
Sant Director

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Ken Cameron 
I just learned that one of my botanical heroes, Dr. Vicki Funk from the Smithsonian Institution, passed away today from cancer. She was my mentor as an undergraduate herbarium intern back in 1988 and had a profound influence on my development as a scientist. Glad I got to see her this summer. She was one of a kind and will be missed.
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