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W. John Kress

Distinguished Scientist and Curator of Botany, National Museum of Natural History


Dr. W. John Kress is Distinguished Scientist and Curator of Botany at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He formerly served as the Interim Under Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian and Director of Science in the Grand Challenges Consortia. Dr. Kress received his education at Harvard University (BA, 1975) and Duke University (PhD, 1981) where he studied tropical biology, ethnobotany, evolution, and ecology. His current research is focused on biodiversity genomics, conservation, and the Anthropocene. Among his 200 scientific and popular papers are his books Plant Conservation—A Natural History Approach, The Weeping Goldsmith, The Ornaments of Life—Coevolution and Conservation in the Tropics, and Living in the Anthropocen—Earth in the Age of Humans. He is currently working on a Guide to the Common Trees of North America. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is or has been an Adjunct Professor of Biology at George Mason University in Virginia, at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Yunnan.