Posted: 5/7/2014 | Print Friendly Version


Dr. Cary Fowler Selected for William L. Brown Award

(ST. LOUIS):  The William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden selected Dr. Cary Fowler for the Center’s 7th William L. Brown Award for Excellence in Genetic Resource Conservation.

Dr. Fowler has been committed to the conservation of plant resources throughout his career. In the 1990s he headed the International Conference Program on Plant Genetic Resources at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and produced the first global assessment of the state of the world’s crop diversity. In 1996 he served as chief author of the FAO’s Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources and worked to have it adopted by 150 countries. He is credited with leading an international campaign in 2010 to organize the saving of one of the world’s largest living collections of fruit and berry varieties from urban development at the Pavlovsk Experiment Station in Russia.

From 2005-2012 Dr. Fowler led the creation of and served as Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which works to ensure “the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide.” Dr. Fowler led the team that developed the plan for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault which now houses seed samples of more than 825,000 distinct crop varieties and their wild relatives. He serves as head of the International Advisory Council that oversees operations of this international facility.

During Dr. Fowler’s tenure as Executive Director, the Global Crop Diversity Trust worked with partner gene-banks in 71 countries and rescued nearly 84,000 unique crop varieties from extinction and sponsored more than 40 projects to screen crop collections for important traits such as heat and drought tolerance. In partnership with the USDA, the trust launched a state-of-the-art gene-bank management system ("GRIN-Global") and made it available to 38 gene-banks internationally, and developed the first ever-global portal to accession (sample) level information (Genesys).

Dr. Fowler has served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary General of the World Food Summit and as a board member of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, as well as the National Plant Genetic Resources Board of the U.S. In 2013, Fowler was elected to Membership in the Russian Academy of Sciences as only one of two foreign members of the Academy. He is former chair of the board of The Livestock Conservancy, and a former member of the board of Seed Savers Exchange.

Dr. Fowler holds a doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden.  He holds Honorary Doctorates from Rhodes College and Simon Fraser University. Dr. Fowler received the Right Livelihood Award in 1985 for his work on the preservation of biodiversity in agriculture, the Vavilov Medal of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Science, and the Heinz Award in 2010.

The award will be presented during a keynote lecture in the framework of the 9th BGCI (Botanical Gardens Conservation International) International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens, hosted by Missouri Botanical Garden from April 26 through May 1, 2015 in St. Louis, Mo. For more information visit

The William L. Brown Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of an individual in the field of genetic resource conservation and use. It is administered by the William L. Brown Center (WLBC) at the Missouri Botanical Garden and is made possible through a generous endowment from the Sehgal Family Foundation, in cooperation with the family of Dr. Brown.

Dr.  Brown was a distinguished, internationally-recognized scientist, businessman, and humanitarian. Over the course of five decades, he devoted himself to the collection, preservation, understanding, and sharing of plant genetic resources in order to help meet the global demand for food. The William L. Brown Award recognizes an individual whose efforts and achievements reflect a concern for those issues that were so important to Dr. Brown.

The William L. Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden is dedicated to the study of useful plants and the relationships between humans, plants and the environment. Scientists strive to conserve plant species for the benefit of future generations.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the three largest plant science programs in the world. The Garden’s work focuses its work on areas that are rich in biodiversity yet threatened by habitat destruction, and operates the world’s most active research and training programs in tropical botany. Garden scientists collaborate with local institutions, schools and indigenous peoples to understand plants, create awareness, offer alternatives and craft conservation strategies. The Missouri Botanical Garden is striving for a world that can sustain us without sacrificing prosperity for future generations, a world where people share a commitment to managing biological diversity for the common benefit. Learn more at


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The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 155 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.

 The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, just south of I-44 at Vandeventer-Kingshighway (exit #287B). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Christmas Day. Grounds open at 7 a.m. most Wednesdays and Saturdays (exception: special admission rate events). Admission is $8; free children ages 12 and under and Garden members. St. Louis City and County residents are $4 and free most Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon (exception: special admission rate events – third weekend of May, Memorial Day 2012, Labor Day weekend and first weekend of October). Park for free on site and two blocks west at the Shaw-Vandeventer intersection. The Garden is accessible via public transportation by taking the MetroLink commuter rail line and picking up a Metro bus ( For general information, log on to or call the 24-hour recording at (314) 577-5100 or 1-800-642-8842. For membership information, visit call (314) 577-5118 during weekday business hours. For volunteer opportunities, visit or call (314) 577-5187. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a tobacco-free environment.