Plant systematics and floristics are the two major areas of my research. In systematics, my research focuses on the tropical relatives of willows, poplars, and cottonwoods (Salicaceae and Samydaceae), trees and shrubs formerly placed in the heterogeneous family Flacourtiaceae. Delimiting and describing species, working out the nomenclature, and mapping distributions make up the classical aspects of these studies, and inferring relationships using phylogenetic techniques with data obtained from morphology, phytochemistry, anatomy, and DNA sequences make up the modern aspects.
In floristics, my research focuses on the state of Mississippi and the southeastern coastal plain. Mississippi currently lacks a manual, taxonomic keys, and county-level distribution maps of the known species of plants, and only recently has an electronic checklist of the species become available. Several students have worked on species delimitation problems in the southeast, in particular, applying genetic data to understanding whether a "complex" consists of one or more species.
Students are welcome in both of these areas of research. Local floras, species complexes in both the southeastern U.S. and the tropics, and classical and modern taxonomic questions are topics ready for pursuit.
I am also curator of the USM Herbarium. The collection presently consists of about 30,000 specimens and is an invaluable resource for research on the flora of Mississippi.
Samarakoon, T., S. Y. Wang, and M. H. Alford. 2013. Enhancing PCR amplification of DNA from recalcitrant plant specimens using a trehalose-based additive. Applications in Plant Sciences 1(1): 1200236. doi:10.3732/apps.1200236
Alford, M. H. 2012. New records of Gamochaeta (Asteraceae) in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2010-2011. N. L. Evenhuis & L. G. Eldredge, eds. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 113: 1–6. http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pubs-online/pdf/op113p1-6.pdf
Laketić, D., S. Radulović, M. Živković, T. Jurca, and M. H. Alford. 2012. Lake Macrophyte Nutrient Index of standing waters in Serbia (LIMNIS). Ecological Indicators 25: 200—214. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2012.10.003
Alford, M. H. 2012. Noteworthy Records: Mississippi and Louisiana. Castanea 77(2): 181—185.
Worberg, A., M. H. Alford, D. Quandt & T. Borsch. 2009. Huerteales sister to Brassicales plus Malvales, and newly circumscribed to include Dipentodon, Gerrardina, Huertea, Perrottetia, and Tapiscia. Taxon 58(2): 468-478, E1.
Alford, M. H. 2008. Revision of Neosprucea (Salicaceae). Systematic Botany Monographs 85: 1-62.
Alford, M. H. 2006. Nomenclatural innovations in neotropical Salicaceae. Novon 16(3): 293-298.
Alford, M. H. 2006. Gerrardinaceae: A new family of African flowering plants unresolved among Brassicales, Huerteales, Malvales, and Sapindales. Taxon 55(4): 959-964.
Alford, M. H. 2006. A new species of Hasseltia from Costa Rica and Panama (Salicaceae). Brittonia 58(3): 277-284.
Alford, M. H. 2006. A taxonomic revision of the Andean genus Pineda (Salicaceae). Kew Bulletin 61: 205-214.
Alford, M. H., C. Grández, & R. Vásquez. 2005 [“2004”]. Una nueva especie de Neosprucea (Salicaceae / Flacourtiaceae) de Perú y Colombia. Arnaldoa 11(2): 37-42.
Alford, M. H. 2003. Claves para los géneros de Flacourtiaceae de Perú y del Nuevo Mundo. Arnaldoa 10(2): 19-38.
Alford, M. H. 2003. Noteworthy collections—Mississippi. Castanea 68(1): 93.
Alford, M. H. 2001. The vascular flora of Amite County, Mississippi. Sida 19(3): 645-699.
Faden, R. B. & M. H. Alford. 2001. A new species of Commelina (Commelinaceae) from Tanzania. Novon 11: 16-21.
Bevans, N., M. H. Alford, F. Guánchez, M. Aregullín, & E. Rodriguez. 2001. Preliminary phytochemical study of two Caribbean Malvaceae used in the treatment of conjunctivitis. Journal of Undergraduate Study and Independent Research 2: 20-24.
B. P. Stark, M. H. Alford, & S. Tucker. 2000. Allocapnia polemistis Ross and Ricker (Plecoptera: Capniidae), new for Mississippi. Entomological News 111(4): 283-286.
Alford, M. H. 1998. New records of Allocapnia (Plecoptera: Capniidae) from Mississippi and Louisiana, with accompanying scanning electron micrographs. Entomological News 109(3): 183-188.
Alford, M. H. 1996. Freshwater mussels (Unionidae) in the East and West Forks of the Amite River, Mississippi. Proceedings of the National Council on Undergraduate Research 10: 1459-1463.