The Melinda Denton Lecture

What is Biological Diversity and Why is it Important to Us?

By Peter Raven

From the June 1995 issue of the Environmental Review newsletter


On March 6, 1995, Professor Peter Raven delivered the First Annual Melinda F. Denton Memorial Lecture at the University of Washington in Seattle. Professor Denton was Chair of the Department of Botany and Curator of the University Herbarium at the time of her death in March 1994.

Dr. Raven is a leader in identifying issues and providing solutions to environmental problems and ecological crises, particularly as they affect the world's tropical regions. Dr. Raven is Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Englemann Professor of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, Chair of the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council and a member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. In 1986, he received the International Prize for Biology from the government of Japan, in 1990 he shared with E.O. Wilson the Prize of the Institut de la Vie in Paris, in 1992 he shared with Norman Myers the Volvo Environment Prize in Sweden, and in 1994 he shared with Artuo Gomez-Pompa the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. From 1985 to 1990 he was a MacArthur Fellow. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society and several foreign academies of sciences and is a past president of a number of groups, including the American Insitute of Biological Sciences, the Organization for Tropical Studies and the Botanical Society of America. Dr. Raven is a member of the Committee on Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society, and Co-chair for the Editorial Committee of the Flora of China project.

He is the author or editor of eighteen books, including textbooks in biology and botany, and more than 450 scientific papers.

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