2017 Award Recipients

Botanical Society of America Awards 2017

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 awards provided by the Botanical Society of America. Here we provide recognition for outstanding efforts and contributions to the science of botany. We thank you for your support of these programs.


  Given by SECTIONS:


  Given by SECTIONS:

Awards for STUDENTS:

  Given by SECTIONS:



Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society of America

The "Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society of America" is the highest honor our Society bestows. Each year, the award committee solicits nominations, evaluates candidates, and selects those to receive an award. Awardees are chosen based on their outstanding contributions to the mission of our scientific Society. The committee identifies recipients who have demonstrated excellence in basic research, education, public policy, or who have provided exceptional service to the professional botanical community, or who may have made contributions to a combination of these categories. Based on these stringent criteria, the 2017 Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society of America is:

Jennifer Richards

Dr. Jennifer Richards has made many important contributions in the diverse areas of plant morphology, development, and ecology of plants. Her research questions have ranged from the development of vegetative and reproductive parts of plants, to the ecology of their forms and functions, and comparisons of the evolutionary pathways of different taxa in the same and in different communities in response to environmental variation. Trained in classical plant morphology, she is now a whole-plant ecologist specializing in macrophytes of the southern Florida Everglades ecosystem, working with many collaborators in diverse fields of ecology and other disciplines to assess community and ecosystem effects of the extensive, long-term restoration projects taking place in the Everglades.  Among topics that she has investigated are:  the development and ecological implications of distyly in flowers, the function of leaves in carnivorous plants, the significance of water lilies as indicators of a healthy freshwater ecosystem in the Everglades, and potential methods of control for invasive exotic ferns. 

Jenny Richards has served the BSA in a number of capacities, including the Conservation Committee, Developmental and Structural Section, Education Committee, AJB associate editor, Election Committee, the Committee on Committees, and Secretary of the BSA. In 2006, the BSA recognized Dr. Richards with a Centennial Award for her outstanding service to the field and the Society. She is an outstanding scientist, educator and colleague, who remains humble, approachable and receptive to anyone with an interest in plants. Nominated by many of her colleagues, she is a botanist’s botanist, who continues to serve the BSA, the botanical community and her institution with distinction.


Charles Edwin Bessey Award (BSA in association with the Teaching Section and Education Committee)
Dr. Phil Gibson

The 2017 recipient of the Bessey Award is Dr. Phil Gibson




BSA Emerging Leaders Award
Dr. Benjamin Blackman

Dr. Benjamin Blackman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and the University of California, Berkeley. Ben earned his B.S. in Biological Sciences at Stanford University and then continued on there as a technician in the lab of Dr. David Kingsley. Ben received his Ph.D. in 2009 from Indiana University, Bloomington, where he worked with with Drs. Loren Rieseberg and Scott Michaels, and he completed an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology at Duke University and University of California, Berkeley with Drs. John Willis and Daniel Rokhsar, respectively. Ben served as a faculty member in the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia for seven semesters before starting his current position at UC Berkeley in January 2016. Over this period, Ben has been a highly productive researcher, authoring over 25 publications, and he also has an impressive record of fellowship and grant support from the National Science foundation.

Ben’s research takes a highly integrative approach to understanding how plant development responds to seasonal and diurnal environmental fluctuations and how these plastic responses evolve during adaptation or domestication. His work applies genomic, functional, and comparative approaches in two classic and diverse systems, sunflowers and monkeyflowers, In doing so, Ben has made many novel insights spanning from the nucleotide level to population ecology in the evolution of photoperiodic flowering as populations adapt to local habitats, the contribution of gene duplication to evolutionary innovation during domestication, and the biology of solar tracking.

Ben’s commitment to teaching, outreach and professional service is also impressive. Since defending his PhD, Ben has mentored over 70 undergraduates and high school students. Many of these diverse students have continued on in STEM fields, and Ben was recognized as an outstanding faculty mentor by the VA-NC Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in STEM in 2015. Ben has also organized several regional meetings and symposia, and he has served on the BSA Public Policy Committee since 2013. Among his achievements in outreach, Ben mentored K-12 Planting Science teams for five years, helped develop and implement a discovery-based genomics curriculum for high school summer interns at the National Museum of Natural History, and is now a lead organizer of Walking with Wildflowers, a new citizen science initiative for monitoring plant phenology along the Pacific Crest Trail (<a href="http://pct.usanpn.org/" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://pct.usanpn.org&source=gmail&ust=1492003816405000&usg=AFQjCNFtoEd-3wcBWVKXA2D5Dx2iLhchtg">http://pct.usanpn.org).


BSA Public Policy Award
The Public Policy Award was established in 2012 to support the development of of tomorrow's leaders and a better understanding of this critical area. The 2017 recipients are:
Andre A. Naranjo, Ph.D. Student, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Maribeth Latvis, Postdoctoral Associate, Tank Lab, University of Idaho

Awards for STUDENTS:


The BSA Undergraduate Student Research Awards
The BSA Undergraduate Student Research Awards support undergraduate student research and are made on the basis of research proposals and letters of recommendation. The 2017 award recipients are:
Christopher Bidlack, Bucknell University - Advisor, Drs. Christopher T. Martine and Jason T. Cantley, Comparing Salt Tolerance in Germination and Adulthood Between Four Australian Solanum Species
Michelle (Shelly) Gaynor, University of Central Florida - Advisor, Dr. Chase Mason with Dr. Linda Walters and Dr. Eric Hoffman, Assessing Genetic Diversity within Populations of Smooth Cordgrass to Ensure Effective Restoration Efforts
Jackie Ndem, Bucknell University - Advisor, Drs. Jessica E. Hall and Christopher T. Martine, Molecular Analysis of pollen grains from a morphologically Androdioecious but functionally Dioecious Solanum species
Kelly Pfeiler, Humboldt State University - Advisor, Dr. Alexandru M Tomescu, An Early Cretaceous seed cone provides a window into the deep phylogeny of sequoioid Cupressaceae


The BSA Young Botanist Awards
The purpose of these awards is to offer individual recognition to outstanding graduating seniors in the plant sciences and to encourage their participation in the Botanical Society of America. The 2016 "Certificate of Special Achievement" award recipients are:
Ethan Baldwin, University of Florida, Advisors: Drs. Pamela and Douglas Soltis
Dana Bergenfeld, Connecticut College, Advisor: Chad Jones
Lana Bolin, University of Minnesota, Advisor: David A. Moeller
Brandon Corder, University of Florida, Advisors: Drs. Pamela and Douglas Soltis
Nic Diaz, Bucknell University, Advisor: Advisor: Christopher T. Martine and Jason T. Cantley
Paige Fabre, University of Washington, Advisor: Dick Olmstead
Emma Frawley, Bucknell University, Advisor: Christopher T. Martine and Jason T. Cantley
Julian Ginori, University of Florida, Advisors: Drs. Pamela and Douglas Soltis
Nicolas Glynos, Cornell University, Advisor: Karl Niklas
Makenna Hill, Weber State University, Advisor: Sue Harley
Lia Leibman, University of Virginia, Advisor: Laura Galloway
Warner Lowry, James Madison University,  Advisor: Conley K. McMullen
Nathan Luftman, Bucknell University,  Advisor: Christopher T. Martine and Jason T. Cantley
Janet Mansaray, Howard University, Advisor: Janelle M. Burke
Rebekah Mohn, Miami University, Advisor: Michael A. Vincent
Cody Myers, University of Florida, Advisors: Drs. Pamela and Douglas Soltis
Nicholas Shaw, Weber State University, Advisor: Heather Root

The BSA Developing Nations Travel Grants
Francisca Ely, Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela
Eliezer Cocoletzi Vásquez, Instituto de Ecologia, Mexico
Kamal Jit Singh, Panjab University, India
Julián Aguirre-Santoro, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Columbia
Victor Amoroso, Central Mindanao University, Philippines
Natalia Ivalu Cacho, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico
Emilio Estrada-Ruiz, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Mexico
Caroline Umebese, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Malka Saba, University of Gujrat, Pakistan
Matias Köhler, Universidade Federal do Rio Grade do Sul, Brazil


The BSA Professional Member Travel Grants
Jeremy Coate, Reed College
Linda Hardison, Oregon State University
Nina Baghai-Riding, Delta State University
Robert Baker, University of Wyoming
Catherine Borer, Berry College
Juan Losada, Brown and Harvard Universities
Stanley Rice, Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Laura Lagomarsino, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Seana Walsh, National Tropical Botanical Garden
Stephanie Conway, University of Washington