Dr. John Kress is a Distinguished Scientist and Curator of Botany at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Not only does John enjoy investigating the natural world at work, he also enjoys spending his free time outside exploring nature. John often goes on walks or hikes with his wife and dog to see nature in action. In addition, John is an avid gardener. Among the plants he cultivates in his own yard are some of the ginger and banana plants that he studies. John’s research involves exploring the natural world and all the organisms that make up the natural world. Since graduate school, he has been exploring different areas, particularly tropical areas, to determine what grows there now, what grew there in the past, and how the plants and animals there interact. John received his B.A. in biology from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in botany from Duke University. John formerly served as the Interim Undersecretary for Science for the Smithsonian Institution, Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, and Director of the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, which is one of the four grand challenges of the Smithsonian Institution’s strategic plan. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and an Affiliate Faculty member at George Mason University. He has previously served as an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Among John’s awards and honors are receipt of the Parker-Gentry Award for Biodiversity and Conservation from the Field Museum of Natural History, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Heliconia Society International, and the Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award for Co-Development of Leafsnap - the First Mobile App for Plant Identification. John is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an honorary Fellow of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. He joined us in this interview to discuss his experiences in life and science.
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