The David Fairchild Medal

For Plant Exploration

The David Fairchild Medal For Plant Exploration

The David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration recognizes exceptional individuals who have: explored remote areas of the word, using innovative travel itineraries, conveyances, or techniques to discover new plant species or cultivars; brought into cultivation new and important plants that hold significant promise as agricultural or horticultural varieties, or; played crucial roles in the ex situ cultivation of rare or endangered plant species; or helped preserve threatened and endangered habitats and natural communities. 

The award consists of a medal, a citation, and a $5,000 cash prize awarded since 1999 by the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The medal is awarded in every third year, next time in 2025, in person at a dinner in connection with the NTBG board meeting at The Kampong, NTBG’s garden in Miami, Florida. 

Science and Conservation in Action

Meet the 2022 recipient of the David Fairchild  Medal, Prof. Sandra Knapp, Natural History Museum of London, UK. 

Past recipients are:

Dr. Sandra Knapp (2022), The Natural History Museum, London, for her decades of taxonomic work on the Solanaceae family, her leadership of Flora Mesoamericana and her broad engagement in plant systematics, collections, fieldwork, translational botany, and crop science, as well as her passion for popular science communication.

Dr. Jan Salick (2020), Missouri Botanical Garden, for her ethnobotanical knowledge, legacy of plant exploration and collection, focus on indigenous peoples including the effect of global climate change on traditional indigenous populations.

Dr. Michael Dosmann (2019), Keeper of the Living Collections at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, for organizing and leading plant explorations to remote areas, bringing into cultivation many woody plants, curatorial management and collections-based research, and popularizing plants through teaching and public education programs.  

Dr. Michael J. Balick (2018), Vice President for Botanical Science, Director and Philecology Curator of the Institute of Economic Botany at The New York Botanical Garden, for understanding and preserving knowledge of traditional plant use in tropical America and Micronesia, honoring a career spanning more than four decades of fieldwork and research around the globe.

Dr. Alan W. Meerow (2017), Senior Research Geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service at the National Germplasm Repository in Miami, Florida, for taxonomic and genetic research and conservation of palms and tropical ornamentals including Amaryllidaceae.

Mr. Larry Schokman (2016), Director Emeritus of The Kampong, for plant exploration and collecting following in the footsteps of David Fairchild.

Dr. Paul Smith (2015), Director of the BGCI and previously head of the Millennium Seed Bank, for his extensive field collecting experiences, commitment to conservation, expertise in plant genetic resource collecting.

Mr. William Richard Quentin Luke (2014), for exploration and conservation of the floras of Kenya, Tanzania, and Mali in East Africa.

Mr. George Argent (2013), of RBG Edinburgh, the world’s leading authority on tropical Vireya rhododendrons. During his career he has studied them in the field, mainly in SE Asia, collected, propagated, conserved and published definitive accounts on their classification. 

Dr. Wade Davis (2012), an articulate and influential advocate for the world’s indigenous cultures and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. A Harvard-trained anthropologist and botanist, Dr. Davis has lived with and documented indigenous peoples to document their traditional knowledge, language, and cultural practices in books, photographs, and film.

Dr. E. M. (Monty) Beekman  (2011) (Deceased)  to E.M. (Monty) Beekman in recognition of his translation of 17th-century Dutch naturalist Rumphius’ 7-volume 7,000-page Ambon herbal [Herbarium Amboinense]

Dr. Peter K. Endress (2010), University of Zurich, research on systematic botany of angiosperms including study of floral microfeatures, floral development, floral evolution, and breeding systems.

Dr. Francis S. P.  Ng (2009), forest ecology research primarily in Malaysia, including tropical Asian forest trees, introduction of rare and endangered species into cultivation, and conservation of Malaysian ecosystems.

Dr. Peter S. Ashton (2008), Harvard University Herbaria, research on lowland forests in tropical Asia, forest conservation, and research on the systematics and ecology of the important tropical canopy tree family Dipterocarpaceae. 

Dr. Scott A. Mori (2007), New York Botanical Garden, research on taxonomy and ecology of trees of the lowland New World tropics including the co-evolution between plants and their pollinators and seed dispersers. 

Professor Arturo Gómez-Pompa (2006), University of California, Riverside, research on tropical ecology, ethnobotany, conservation and management of tropical forests especially in Mexico.

Dr. Thomas Croat (2005), Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, research interests involve the systematics, floristics and ecology of the family Araceae (philodendron family), exploration and field work throughout tropical America.

Dr. Vincent Lebot (2003), CIRAD (Centre International de Recherches Agronomiques pour le Developpement) a French institution working for developing countries. He is a plant geneticist with experience in kava germplasm characterization and evaluation, specializes in root crops agrobiodiversity research, the genetic improvement of their quality and chemotypes.

Dr. Ruth Kiew (2002), Singapore Botanic Gardens, one of world’s great experts on tropical begonias, exploration of remote areas of Malaysia.

Professor Christopher D.K. Cook (2001), Institute for Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Switzerland, research on biology and classification of aquatic plants.

Sir Ghillean Prance (2000), The Eden Project, UK, biology and conservation of tropical Amazonian rain forests, tropical plant systematics (Lecythidaceae, Chrysobalanaceae), and ethnobotany.

Dr. John Dransfield (1999), Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, world authority on the systematics of the palm family (Arecaceae).

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