World-Leading Botanist and Conservationist Presents Annual Thornton-Massa Lecture at Colorado State University Sept. 27

Peter Raven’s promotion of conservation in crafting a sustainable future for humans as responsible stewards of the earth’s fragile ecosystem makes him this year’s distinguished lecturer at the annual Thornton-Massa lecture series at Colorado State University.

Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and one of the world’s leading botanists and advocates of conservation and biodiversity, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Lory Student Center Theater. His talk, "Biodiversity, Sustainability and the Human Prospect," is free and open to the public.    

Raven’s appearance is made possible by the generosity of the late Dr. Emil Massa of Denver and the late Bruce and Mildred Thornton, whose shared interest in biodiversity, improved plant genetics and related topics led them to endow an annual lecture through the College of Agricultural Science and College of Natural Sciences.

Raven has led the effort of calling attention to the dramatic impact human activity has had on biodiversity and the threat to the long-term health of the earth. He is the chairman of the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration; chair of the Division of Earth and Life Studies of the National Research Council, and past president and chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest organization of professional scientists in the world.

For the past 30 years, Raven has headed the Missouri Botanical Garden, an institution he nurtured to a world-class center for botanical research, education and horticulture. Under Raven’s leadership, the Missouri Botanical Garden has become a leader in botanical research in Latin America, Africa, Asia and North America.

Described by Time magazine as a "Hero for the Planet," Raven champions research around the world to preserve endangered plants and is a leading advocate for conservation and a sustainable environment. In recognition of his work in science and conservation, in 2001 he received from the president of the United States the National Medal of Science, the most prestigious award for scientific accomplishment in this country.

During the Clinton Administration, Raven was a member of the president’s committee of advisers on science and technology as well as serving 12 years as Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences.

Raven has written numerous books and publications, both popular and scientific, including co-authoring an internationally best-selling botany textbook. He is co-editor of the "Flora of China," a joint Chinese-American international project that is leading to a contemporary account on all the plants of China.  

Massa, a native of Cleveland, earned a medical degree in 1953 from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and entered private practice in Denver in 1960. He retired in 1991.

Bruce and Mildred Thornton shared a lifelong interest in and commitment to the study, identification and preservation of seeds. Bruce Thornton served from 1927 to 1962 as a Colorado State faculty member and headed the Colorado State Seed Laboratory from 1940 to 1961. Mildred Thornton worked full time and later intermittently at the seed lab until her husband’s retirement in 1961. She took over the directorship and, during a nine-year tenure, oversaw the move to new facilities and continued to maintain the laboratory’s excellence in seed research and in the training of seed analysts. She received several awards for her work, including Colorado State’s Henry Award and Honor Alumna.

For more information on the lecture and program, call (970) 491-1300.