Japanese botanist and fern authority recognized for his contributions to science
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kalāheo, Kaua‘i, HI USA (March 9, 2010) - Botanist and researcher Dr. Kunio Iwatsuki has been named the 2009 recipient of the esteemed Robert Allerton Award for Excellence in Tropical Botany or Horticulture. The biennial award will be presented in absentia at the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Board of Trustees meeting on Kaua‘i on March 15.
The Allerton Award recognizes specific achievements or a lifetime of achievements in tropical plant science. It is named to honor one of NTBG’s founding trustees and its principal initial benefactor and consists of a bronze medal and a $1,000 honorarium. Dr. Iwatsuki will be the 19th scientist to be so recognized.
In response to his selection, Dr. Iwatsuki said, “It is a great honor for me to be given the Robert Allerton award. I’ve known about this award since the first one was given to Professor Richard Holttum in 1975. As a pteridologist [a scientist specializing in the study of ferns], I learned a lot from Professor Holttum, especially when I was at Kew Garden in 1969-70.”
Dr. Iwatsuki, the Director of the Museum of Nature and Human Activities in Hyogo, Japan, graduated from Kyoto University with a Ph.D. in botany in 1963. He has been associated with the prestigious Japanese university academically and professionally since 1953.
Dr. Iwatsuki has served as the Director of the Botanical Garden at the University of Tokyo (1983-89, 91-95) and is an honorary professor at the University of Tokyo. Additionally, he has taught at Kyoto University, Rikkyo University, and other universities in Japan. Dr. Iwatsuki is also an honorary professor at the University of Tokyo. His specialty particularly focuses the systematics of the fern family Hymenophyllaceae, commonly called “filmy ferns,” which grow mostly in tropical rain forests.
During the course of his nearly five decade-long career, Dr. Iwatsuki has played an active leadership role in his affiliations with the Botanical Society of Japan, the Japan Association of Botanical Gardens, the Japan Society for Plant Taxonomy and nearly two dozen other associations, congresses, committees and councils including Japan’s National Science Museum, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Japan and UNESCO.
Besides his professional affiliations, Dr. Iwatsuki has published half a dozen books in English on the flora of Japan, the flora of Thailand, vegetation in Eastern North America, the evolution and diversification of land plants and other topics related to botany and conservation.
In addition to many years studying Hymenophyllaceae, Dr. Iwatsuki has organized botanical surveys of tropical countries that include much of Southeast Asia, China, the Indian sub-continent and Melanesia. He also helped to promote developing the study of tropical botany in Japan, a field of study which has grown in recent years.
Beyond Japan, Dr. Iwatsuki has worked to train and assist young botanists from Thailand, Nepal, Korea, China, the Philippines, and other countries who have gone on to pursue advance field training and earn Ph.D.s.
Chipper Wichman, NTBG’s Chief Executive Officer and Director, said, “We are delighted to honor Dr. Iwatsuki for his many contributions to conservation and botanical research over his esteemed career. He has proven himself a global leader in both academic and scientific communities, conducting botanical surveys across Asia and the Pacific.”
“This important work has been further advanced through Dr. Iwatsuki’s published works and decades of teaching the botanists of tomorrow.”
Acclaimed British botanist and recipient of the 2005 Robert Allerton award Sir Ghillean Prance called Dr. Iwatsuki one of Japan’s leading plant taxonomists and a “respected senior figure in the Japanese scientific community.” Professor Prance pointed to Iwatsuki’s career studying ferns in tropical Asia, rare plants of the Bonin Islands and high-level involvement with conservation as examples of Dr. Iwatsuki’s contributions to science.
The National Tropical Botanical Garden is a not-for-profit, non-governmental institution with nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves in Hawai‘i and Florida. Its mission is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions. NTBG is supported primarily through donations and grants.
Media contact: Janet L. Leopold, email@example.com, (808) 332-7324, ext. 213
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