Charles B. Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award
Charles B. Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award award was created at the 2007 Council Meeting,
to honor the Dr. Charles B. Heiser, Jr. The Student Committee initiated the Charles
B. Heiser, Jr. Mentor Award to honor outstanding economic botanists who have substantially
impacted the training and professional development of economic botany and ethnobotany
students. This award, chosen by students, spotlights dedicated educators who foster
the development of the field by example and through student mentoring.
Charles Heiser, Jr. is former President and Distinguished Economic Botanist (DEB)
and an Honorary Life Member. He is one of only 4 Distinguished Economic Botanists
who have served as SEB President and DEB. Heiser (1978), Prance (1996), Walter
Lewis (2006) and Hardy Eshbaugh (2007). His hallmark work has been in the origins
of agriculture but his research included domestication, natural and artificial
selection, reproductive biology, systematic patterns and processes and evolution).
He taught for 50 years at Indiana University and twenty nine students have received
their doctoral degree under his direction.
Dr. Charles Heiser was born
in Cynthiana, Indiana in 1920. He received his A.B. (1942) and M.A. (1943) from
Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. from the University of California
in Berkeley in 1947. In that same year he joined the faculty of Indiana University.
His early research was with sunflowers (Helianthus), a genus that includes several
cultivated plants as well as a large number of wild species. Through these studies
Heiser first became interested in natural hybridization and its evolutionary significance
and later in the origin of domesticated plants. The latter in turn led to consideration
of the origin of agriculture. In addition to sunflowers he has also become an
authority on a number of other plants, mostly ones of economic importance, such
as chili peppers, naranjillas, various gourds and the totora.
He has served
as president of the following organizations: American Society of Plant Taxonomists
(1967), Society for the Study of Evolution (1974), Society for Economic Botany
(1978) and the Botanical Society of America (1980). He also has received the following
honors: Guggenheim Fellowship (1953), Gleason Award of the New York Botanical
Garden (1969), Merit Award of the Botanical Society of America (1972), Distinguished
Economic Botanist from the Society of Economic Botany (1984), Pustovoit Award
from the International Sunflower Association (1985) the Asa Gray Award from the
American Society of Plant Taxonomists (1988) and the 2002 Raven Award presented
by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. In 1987 he was elected to the National
Academy of Sciences. In addition to his scientific papers, he has written six
semi-popular books dealing with useful plants and related subjects. Twenty nine
students have received their doctoral degree under his direction.
biologist and Distinguished Professor emeritus Charles Heiser received the 2002
Raven Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. The award recognizes
exceptional efforts in sharing the wonders of plant classification with non-scientists.
He also received the Asa Gray Award in 1988 for forwarding the society's research
and teaching goals. His latest book, Weeds
in My Garden: Observations on Some Misunderstood Plants (Timber Press) was
published in 2003. Seed to Civilization:
The Story of Food is a must read for all botany undergraduate students.