Professor Sir Peter Crane FRS is President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Virginia, USA, an estate of Rachel Lambert Mellon that includes an exquisite garden as well as an exceptional library focused on the history of plant science, botanical exploration, and the development of garden and landscape design. From 2009 to 2016 he was the Carl W. Knobloch Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. Peter Crane is known internationally for his work on the diversity of plant life - its origin, fossil history, current status, conservation and use. From 1982 to 1999 he was at the Field Museum in Chicago, and from 1999 to 2006 served as Director of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He returned to Chicago in 2006 as the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor at The University of Chicago. Peter Crane was elected to the Royal Society in 1998 and was knighted in the UK in 2004. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a Member of the German Academy Leopoldina. He is the recipient of several honorary degrees from universities in the UK and US, and received the International Prize for Biology in 2014.
Sandra Knapp obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Botany from Pomona College, in Claremont, California and her PhD in 1986 from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. She is a specialist on the taxonomy of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, and has spent much time in the field collecting plants. She came to the Natural History Museum, London, in 1992 to manage the international project Flora Mesoamericana - a synoptic inventory of the approximately 18,000 species of plants of southern Mexico and the isthmus of Central America. She is also the author of several popular books on the history of science and botanical exploration, including the award-winning Potted Histories (2004). She is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers and actively involved in promoting the role of taxonomy worldwide. Dr. Knapp is Vice-President of the International Association of Plant Taxonomy and an elected member of the councils of Fauna and Flora International, the Global Plants Initiative, Organization Pro-Flora Neotropica, and the Tropical Biology Association and she is on the editorial board of several high profile taxonomic journals. In 2009 she was honored by the Peter Raven Outreach Award by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists for her work in public engagement with science and the UK National Biodiversity Network’s John Burnett Medal for her work in biodiversity. Her current projects include Flora Mesoamericana, taxonomic studies in the Solanaceae including a global treatment of the megadiverse genus Solanum and revision of the peppers (Capsicum) and their close relatives in the genus Lycianthes, collaborative research in Solanaceae phylogenetics and genome evolution, studies of the geography of wild relatives of pests of Solanaceae crop wild relatives (potato, tomato and eggplant), and the production of field guides for use in biodiversity monitoring in the tropics.
Professor Peter H. Raven is President Emeritus
of the Missouri Botanical Garden and George Engelmann Professor of Botany
Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis. Born in Shanghai in 1936,
raised in San Francisco, he received his PhD from University of California, Los
Angeles in 1960. Prof. Raven’s efforts over the past 50 years have been of great
importance for systematics, biogeography, evolution, and conservation. He is co-editor
of the 49-volume Flora of China and
co-author of Biology of Plants (now
in 8th edition) as well as hundreds of publications involving plant
systematics (especially of the family Onagraceae), coevolution, pollination
biology, folk taxonomy, and conservation of biodiversity worldwide. He served
for 12 years as Home Secretary of the US National Academy of Sciences, to which
he was elected in 1977, and was former president of American Association for
the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has also been elected as a foreign member
of many other academies, including the Royal Society of London and the Chinese
Academy of Sciences and those of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, India,
Mexico, Russia, and Sweden. He has received numerous prizes, awards, and honorary
degrees from countries throughout the world, including Guggenheim and MacArthur
fellowships, Friendship Award of Chinese Government, Engler Medal in Gold
(IBC2011), Volvo Prize, Sasakawa Prize, Cosmos Prize, International Prize for
Biology (Japan), etc.
Barbara Schaal is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Mary Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor, Washington University in St. Louis. Schaal was born in Berlin, Germany and grew up in Chicago, IL, USA. She graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago with a degree in biology and received a Ph.D. from Yale University. She is a plant evolutionary biologist who uses DNA sequences to understand evolutionary processes such as gene flow, geographical differentiation, and the domestication of crop species. Her current research focuses on the evolutionary genomics of rice. She currently serves as chair of the Division on Earth and Life Studies at the National Research Council and is a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. She has been president of the Botanical Society of America and the Society for the Study of Evolution and is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was appointed as a US science envoy by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In February 2016 Schaal became the president of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Dr. Yang is the co-founder and Chairman of BGI-Shenzhen, one of the major genomics centers in the world. He and his partners have made a significant contribution to the International HGP, HapMap Project, 1000 Genomes Project, and other human genomics research, as well as sequencing and analyzing genomes of many other animals, plants, and microorganisms, with many publications in Science, Nature, Cell and other internationally prestigious journals. Dr. Yang obtained his Ph.D. from University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and postdoctoral trainings in France and USA. He has received many awards and honors, including Research Leader of the Year by Scientific American in 2002 and Award in Biology by the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in 2006. He was elected as a foreign member of European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2006, an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2007, a fellow of TWAS in 2008, a foreign academician of Indian National Science Academy in 2009, German National Academy of Science in 2012 and the USA National Academy of Science in 2014.