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The 2003 José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany was presented to John Beaman at the 3rd Annual Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, 29 March 2003. The award presentation was made by Laurence Dorr.

John Beaman

Dr. John Beaman. Recipient of the 2003 José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany.

Laurence Dorr, John Beaman and W. John Kress

Laurence Dorr presents the Cuatrecasas Medal to John Beaman. W. John Kress, Head of Botany, United States National Herbarium looks on.

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2003 Cuatrecasas Medal Awarded to John Beaman

John Beaman of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, received the Cuatrecasas Medal at the 3rd Annual Smithsonian Botanical Symposium. The medal is in honor of José Cuatrecasas, a pioneering botanist and taxonomist who spent nearly a half-century working in Botany at the Smithsonian Institution. The presentation of the medal at this year's symposium was particularly poignant since 2003 marks the centenary of José Cuatrecasas' birth.

The selection committee was impressed by the many important contributions that Beaman has made to tropical botany over his long and distinguished career. Beaman received his bachelor's degree in Forestry from North Carolina State in 1951, his master's degree in Botany from Washington State University in 1953, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1957. He was hired in 1956 as an assistant curator of the Michigan State University (MSU) Herbarium. His early floristic work was centered in Mexico, and he provided many contributions to the taxonomy of Asteraceae. Beaman's studies of the flora of northern Borneo began in 1983, culminating with the recent publication of Plants of Mount Kinabalu. Initially, Beaman thought the flora of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Borneo, included about 4,000 species of vascular plants. A few years later that figure was revised to about 4,500 species, and now he believes the total could go to 5,000 species or even more. This extraordinary diversity occurs in an area of only 1,600 km2.

Beaman's other accomplishments include serving as the program director for systematic biology at the National Science Foundation from 1979-1981; receiving a Fulbright Fellowship for work at the National University of Malaysia, Sabah Campus from 1983-1984; and receiving the Distinguished Faculty Award at MSU in 1989. In 1993, Beaman retired as the curator of the MSU Herbarium, a position he had held for 37 years. In 1994, Beaman became the founding Director of the Institute of Biodiversity and Environment Conservation (IBEC) at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Beaman is now at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The recipient of the Cuatrecasas Medal is selected by a committee made up of botanists on the staff at the National Museum of Natural History, in consultation with other local plant scientists in the Washington area. This year the Committee was composed of Laurence Dorr (Chair), Pedro Acevedo, Alan Whittemore, and Pat Herendeen. Nominations for the Medal are accepted from all scientists in Botany at the Museum. 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.


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