OREM — Those scenic Mount Timpanogos photos gathering dust under your bed may be the key to one Utah Valley University's professor's scientific research.

Jim Harris, a biology professor at UVU, plans to build an online herbarium using photographs of the mountain's wildflowers. Community members are encouraged to contribute photographs to the project.

Photos will be organized according to elevation and location on the mountain. The information, Harris said, will help scientists to correlate plant distribution with environmental and geographical factors.

A traditional herbarium is made up of dried plant specimens, which can take years to collect, Harris said.

"Gathering plant samples can get tricky," he said. "You have to take the time of blooming into account. Some places don't allow collecting."

Using photos, Harris said he can quickly build a large database.

"Having records in a database format allows us to do research that's been basically impossible in the past," he said.

To contribute to the project, contact Harris at 801-863-8623 or [email protected].