Bucknell University Professor Chris Martine is a consummate evangelist for the plant sciences, from his impassioned teaching in the classroom to his efforts to spread the word further through social media, blogging, community education and his Plants are Cool, Too! YouTube series. Now, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) has taken note, recognizing Martine with its 2018 Peter Raven Award for exceptional outreach to non-scientists.
The award, presented in July at the annual international Botany conference, is considered the most prestigious recognition of achievement in plant science communication, and is one that has long held special appeal for Martine, who believes his work should extend beyond classrooms, labs and academic journals.
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"I see my role as bringing great science to more people, potentially broadening the audience through outreach and communication," said Martine, the David Burpee Chair in Plant Genetics & Research and director of the Manning Herbarium at Bucknell University, "so this really means a lot to me."
The biology professor's nomination came from nine scientists at seven institutions. They cited him for being an innovator in science communication, a tireless scholar, an exceptional teacher and a spokesperson for botany.
Martine frequently invites undergraduate students to join in his professional work, from taking them along on field expeditions to hiring them as assistants in his lab to advising their own research endeavors. Many of those students have also been lauded for their scholarly achievements. In the last five years, the Botanical Society of America has recognized 13 Bucknell students with its Young Botanist Awards, including, in 2018, recent graduates Mae Lacey '18 and Dan Hayes '18.
Hayes was also recognized by ASPT with its 2018 Undergraduate Research Prize, the society's most prestigious recognition of undergraduate achievement. He was selected for the award based on his senior honors thesis project, which was advised by Martine and Burpee Postdoctoral Fellow Angela McDonnell and improves the understanding of plant evolution and diversification in Australia. The prize has only been awarded six times, and four have gone to Bucknell students.
Author of the book Trees of New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic States, now in its seventh edition, Martine has published numerous research papers on plant evolution and taxonomy. His Plants are Cool, Too! YouTube series has viewers from around the globe and introduces them to diverse plant life and scientists in interesting and engaging ways.
He also generates visibility around botanical research via local radio appearances and newspaper articles, and is a dedicated advocate for plants on social media, especially through Twitter. Follow him at @MartineBotany.