When Time named Peter Raven ’53 a Hero of the Planet in April 1999, the editors there had good cause. Few other men have done as much as Raven to stop the destruction of rain forests and slow the loss of biodiversity, and hardly anyone is as articulate or as passionate as he is regarding our need to save our planet. Raven’s passion and professionalism have won him a litany of awards, honors and posts. Among them:
• Raven was Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and a member of President Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.
• He is one of 80 members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that advises the Pope on matters of science and technology.
• He was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and received a “genius” award for his work.
• The National Geographic Society recently named him chairman of the Committee for Research and Exploration.
• ABC named him a person of the week in 1988, and the New York Times ran a story on his achievements on the cover of its “Science Times” section.
• He has authored more than 400 articles and 16 books, including two leading college textbooks and the biology text used at SI.
• Since 1971, he has turned the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis into one of the world’s leading centers for plant conservation.
• In 2000, he received the National Medal of Science from President Clinton, recognizing him an authority on plant systematics and evolution and as the originator of the concept of coevolution.
Raven started his remarkable career at age 8 when he enrolled as the youngest member of the student section of the California Academy of Sciences. In his sophomore year at SI, he discovered a species of beetle and a rare shrub in the Presidio — the Presidio Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hookeri ravenii). Since then, he has had dozens of newly discovered plants and animals named for him.
After two years at USF, he transferred to UC Berkeley. He has worked at Stanford, in New Zealand and all over South and Central America in his long and successful career.