From Plant Press, Vol. 19, No. 3, July 2016.
The Department of Botany and the United States National Herbarium present the José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany annually to a botanist and scholar of international stature who has contributed significantly to advancing the field of tropical botany. The Medal 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 staff in 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>.
Kamaljit [Kamal] S. Bawa is the 14th recipient of the José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany. He was educated at Punjab University in Chandigarh, India, where he received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1967, he came to the United States for postdoctoral appointments, first at the University of Washington and then at the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University. In 1974 he joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where he has remained and presently is a Distinguished Professor of Biology. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment, Giorgio Ruffolo Fellow in Sustainability Science, and in 2012 was the first laureate of the Gunnerus Sustainability Award from the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. He is a fellow or officer in many scientific societies, including a past president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC).
The Cuatrecasas Medal selection committee took special note of Bawa’s extensive and often pioneering contributions to tropical biology and international conservation. Of special relevance to this Symposium is his research in reproductive ecology (including pollination biology) and population genetics in both the Old and New World tropics. His more recent contributions have addressed the challenges of biodiversity conservation and sustainability, especially for India and its centers of biodiversity in the Western Ghats and Himalayas. In 1996 he founded the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), which has developed research and education programs to address key environmental problems in India. He has authored, coauthored, and edited over 200 scholarly articles and 11 books that span a remarkable array of breadth from basic biology to environmental policy in a changing world.
The past recipients of the Cuatrecasas Medal are Rogers McVaugh from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2001); P. Barry Tomlinson from Harvard University (2002); John Beaman from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003); David Mabberley from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney (2004); Jerzy Rzedowski and Graciela Calderón de Rzedowski from Instituto de Ecología del Bajío, Michoacán, Mexico (2005); Sherwin Carlquist from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Pomona College (2006); Mireya D. Correa A. from the University of Panama and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2008); Norris H. Williams from the Florida Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida, Gainesville (2009); Beryl B. Simpson from the University of Texas at Austin (2010); Walter S. Judd from the University of Florida at Gainesville (2012); Ana Maria Giulietti Harley from the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Brazil (2013); H. Peter Linder from Zurich University (2014); and Paulo Günter Windisch from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (2015).