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GIS assists Raven in coming here to give a lecture

By Dave Jones on January 12, 2012 in University News

Thanks in part to GIS, Peter H. Raven is finding his way to UC Davis next week to deliver a Storer Lecture.

The life sciences lectureship committee first invited the botanist nearly 30 years ago, but he could not make it. Raven is no stranger to the campus, however, having visited over the years and, since 2006, working closely with the arboretum on the development of a geographic information system for the world’s botanical gardens and zoos.

He is speaking here at the invitation of Mary Burke, the arboretum’s director of planning and collections. She also leads the GIS project, which is assembling garden and zoo data for use by conservation scientists.

Raven’s lecture, under the sponsorship of the Storer Life Sciences Endowment, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 18) in Ballroom B at the Conference Center (at the campus’s south entry). Admission is free and open to the public.

The organizers said Raven will speak on “Saving Life, Saving Ourselves,” focusing on conservation in a rapidly changing world.

Raven is president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a professor emeritus of botany at Washington University in St. Louis.

Under his leadership, the garden became a recognized program in the study and conservation of imperiled habitats around the world. He is also a leader in the fields of plant evolution and systematics.

He is the recipient of a National Medal of Science, given in 2001, and earlier received Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships. TIME Magazine once labeled him a “Hero for the Planet.”

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The latter includes a standing committee, the National Association of Academies of Science, which posted the following on its website:

“Dr. Raven first realized in the mid-1960s that the rapid growth of the human population, consumption and the spread of polluting technologies were threatening biological diversity to a degree that had not been realized earlier.

“He soon became an outspoken advocate of the need for conservation throughout the world based on efforts to attain sustainability and social justice everywhere.”

Closer to home, the Missouri Botanical Garden — which he led for 39 years — runs an education program that reaches more than 100,000 students each year and provides professional development for teachers in the St. Louis region.

The garden’s horticultural displays attract more than 750,000 visitors annually, from around the United States and the world.

Raven, a San Francisco native, completed his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley before receiving his doctorate at UCLA. He taught at Stanford before joining the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1971.

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,