UMass Boston professor receives prestigious Linnean Medal in botany
Distinguished Professor of Biology Kamal Bawa was awarded the prestigious Linnean Medal in Botany by the Linnean Society of London at its annual meeting.
Rick Kesseli, chair of the Biology Department, put the award in perspective: “For botanists, this medal carries the weight and prestige of a Nobel Prize.”
Established in 1788, the Linnean Society of London is the world’s oldest active biological society. It was named after the famous Swedish biologist Carl Linnaeus, who developed the modern system of naming plants and animals. The society has been awarding the Linnean Medal every year since 1888.
Bawa is the first Indian to receive the medal in the 140-year-old history of the society awarding the medal. He is the latest in a long list of eminent botanists. The first scientist to receive the Linnean Medal, in 1888, was Sir Joseph D. Hooker, Charles Darwin’s closest friend and an explorer who compiled the monumental seven volume Flora of British India—the first comprehensive account of India’s plants.
The Linnean Society awards this medal according as an expression of the society's “esteem and appreciation for service to science.”
Bawa is widely recognized for his pioneering research on the evolution of tropical plants, tropical deforestation, non-timber forest products, and for decades of work on the biodiversity of forests in Central America, the Western Ghats, and the Eastern Himalaya.
Also cited were Bawa’s efforts to found the journal Conservation and Society, to establish the India Biodiversity Portal, and to create a world-class environmental center, the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). He currently serves as president of this Bangalore-based environmental research and policy center.
“The Linnean Medal is a good recognition of our work on conservation and sustainability, and will serve as a fresh reminder that we need to redouble our efforts to fully document and study our planet’s incredible plant wealth that is rapidly declining,” Bawa said.