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Leading expert on ginkgo trees to speak at Randolph

Peter Crane

Peter Crane

Internationally renowned botanical researcher and evolutionary plant scientist Peter Crane is one of the first speakers slated to visit Randolph College in 2018. Crane, who is president of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation and author of Ginkgo: The Tree that Time Forgot, will give a free, public lecture on January 24 at 7 p.m. in Nichols Theatre.

During the event, Crane will discuss the evolutionary and cultural history of the ginkgo tree from its mysterious origin through its proliferation, drastic decline, and ultimate resurgence. The ginkgo is a botanical oddity and a widely recognized botanical “living fossil.” Wild Ginkgo exists only in China, but today it is beloved for the elegance of its leaves, prized for its edible nuts, and revered for its longevity. It is one of the world’s most popular street trees and herbal medicines.

Crane’s work focuses on the diversity of plant life: its origin and fossil history, current status, and conservation and use. He served as the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies from 2009 until 2016. From 1992-1999, he was director of the Field Museum in Chicago with overall responsibility for the museum’s scientific programs. During this time, he established the Office of Environmental and Conservation Programs and the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change, which today make up the Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo). From 1999-2006, Crane served as director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, one of the largest and most influential botanical gardens in the world. His tenure at Kew saw strengthening and expansion of the gardens’ scientific, conservation, and public programs.

Crane was elected to the Royal Society (the U.K. academy of sciences) in 1998. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a member of the German Academy Leopoldina. He was knighted in the U.K. for services to horticulture and conservation in 2004. Crane currently serves on the Board of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas, and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.



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