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A father’s love of science brings enhanced learning opportunities for students

D06_10Payne31.jpgBOONE—Marriage and family changed Tony Payne’s plans for a career as a science teacher.

But a different career path didn’t dampen his love for botany that was kindled when he was a student at Appalachian State University.

To recognize Payne’s passion for education and his love of science, Appalachian has dedicated a botany lab in his name.

D06_10Payne38.jpgThe Anthony Hendren Payne Dedicated Botany Laboratory is equipped with a state-of-the art image capture system comprised of a stereoscopic microscope, computer system and multimedia projector. Acquisition of the equipment was made possible by a gift from Payne’s daughter, Dr. Cynthia Payne, a neuroradiologist in Raleigh.

“This has been a dream come true for me, because my family puts a big emphasis on education,” Cynthia Payne said. When she asked her father if he had to choose to do it all again what would he do, he said botany. “It had been my dream all along to honor my family by associating them with a very distinguished institution, and Appalachian has just shot to the pinnacle of recognition of what a vibrant university community does when it really focuses on students and making them first,” she said.

The equipment will be used by botany professors and students to study the detail of plant specimens at a magnification ranging from .6x to 56x power.

Steven Seagle, chairman of Appalachian’s Department of Biology, says students expect to use such equipment during their college experience.

“Today’s students are visually oriented and technology savvy,” he said. “We are dealing with different learning styles and we also are dealing with different expectations on their part. They expect technology to be in the classrooms and labs. This investment is really going to enhance our ability to teach. Its impact will be immediate.”

Payne earned a bachelor of science degree in 1950 and a master’s degree in 1951 from Appalachian following service in the U.S. Navy. He taught for a year in the public schools before turning to insurance sales to support his family.

“Dr. Ray Derrick really did inspire me about the plant side of biology,” Tony Payne said. “He was a great teacher. If I had my life to do over again, I would have gotten a doctorate in botany and taught.”

Payne has put his science training to good use. He taught the art of bonsai for more than 10 years at a community college in Roanoke, Va., and he is president of the Hinoki Bonsai Club of Roanoke. He has a collection of more than 30 bonsai trees, which he exhibits in competitions across the United States.


Photo one caption: Dr. Cynthia Payne and her father Tony.

Photo two caption: Biology professor Zack Murrell, right, demonstrates a state of the art image capture system used to teach botany at Appalachian State University. The equipment was a gift from Dr. Cynthia Payne, left, in honor of her father Tony, center. The equipment in the Anthony Hendren Payne Dedicated Botany Laboratory includes a stereoscopic microscope, computer system and multimedia projector. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Mike Rominger)