From Plant Press, Vol. 18, No. 3, July 2015.
The Department of Botany and the United States National Herbarium present the annual José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany to a botanist and scholar of international stature who has contributed significantly to advancing the field of tropical botany. The award is named in honor of Dr. José Cuatrecasas, a pioneering botanist and taxonomist, who spent nearly a half-century working in the Smithsonian Institution's Department of Botany. Dr. Cuatrecasas devoted his career to plant exploration in tropical South America and this award serves to keep vibrant the accomplishments and memory of this outstanding scientist.
The winner of this prestigious award is selected by a committee made up of four botanists on the staff of the Department in consultation with other plant scientists outside of the Smithsonian Institution. Nominations for the Medal are accepted from all scientists in the Botany Department. The award consists of a bronze medal bearing an image of José Cuatrecasas on the front with the recipient’s name and date of presentation on the back. Highlights from past presentations to the recipients are available at <https://botany.si.edu/cuatrecasas/cuatrecasasMedal.cfm>.
Paulo Günter Windisch is the 13th recipient of the José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany. Windisch, a retired professor from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, is noted for his extensive contributions to the systematics, biogeography, and evolution of Neotropical pteridophytes. He has published almost 100 research articles—almost all on ferns and fern allies—and a book-length guide to the pteridophytes of São Paulo state in Brazil. In addition, he and his students have presented well over 100 talks in meetings and congresses. This latter statistic speaks to another aspect of Windisch’s career that is especially noteworthy and exemplary: his impressive contribution to educating and mentoring university students in Brazil. Windisch has served as principal advisor to 16 Masters-level and eight PhD-level students, as well as serving on the post-graduate committees of another 30 students. Now retired from university teaching, Paulo continues to publish on tropical American ferns.
Windisch received his bachelor’s degree from the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil in 1971. He then went on to study under Rolla Tryon at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received his Ph.D. in 1977 with a dissertation on tropical American ferns. His career has been devoted since then to teaching and research in his native Brazil punctuated with post-doctoral appointments. The first of these was in 1984 when he spent a year studying at the University of Aarhus in Denmark where he worked with Benjamin Ølgaard. The second occurred a decade later when he spent two years here in Washington working in the US National Herbarium, which was then being curated by David Lellinger.
The past recipients of the Cuatrecasas Medal are Rogers McVaugh of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2001); P. Barry Tomlinson of Harvard University (2002); John Beaman of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003); David Mabberley of the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney (2004); Jerzy Rzedowski and Graciela Calderón de Rzedowski of Instituto de Ecología del Bajío, Michoacán, Mexico (2005); Sherwin Carlquist of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Pomona College (2006); Mireya D. Correa A. of the University of Panama and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2008); Norris H. Williams of the Florida Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida, Gainesville (2009); Beryl B. Simpson of the University of Texas at Austin (2010); Walter S. Judd of the University of Florida at Gainesville (2012); Ana Maria Giulietti Harley of the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Brazil (2013); and H. Peter Linder of Zurich University (2014).