Walter Judd
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Walter Judd

The Botanical Society of America Bestows Merit Award on Well-Deserving Professor

Dr. Walter Judd is recognized worldwide for his contributions to plant systematics, taxonomy, and phylogenetics. Although he is very well known for his academic achievements, where he has focused on the systematics of the Ericaceae and Melastomataceae, as well as floristics in the southeastern United States and the West Indies, Dr. Judd is also an exceptional teacher here at the University of Florida where he has been awarded numerous times for his excellence in pedagogy. He has received the University of Florida's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction/Teacher of the Year Award three times.

Dr. Judd also has taught an internationally renowned class in tropical botany for the past 30 years at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens and the Kampong in Miami. He is the lead author of the influential textbook, Plant Systematics: a Phylogenetic Approach (2007), now in its third edition, which has been adopted throughout the world as a model for teaching plant systematics and taxonomy. Dr. Judd's passion for teaching, research, as well as learning, is ever influential to the graduate and undergraduate students he mentors. The 2012 Botanical Society of America Merit Award is a much-deserved honor for him.

From the Botanical Society of America: "BSA Merit Award is the highest honor our Society bestows. Each year, the Merit Award Committee solicits nominations, evaluates candidates, and selects those to receive an award. Awardees are chosen based on their outstanding contributions to the mission of our scientific Society. The committee identifies recipients who have demonstrated excellence in basic research, education, public policy, or who have provided exceptional service to the professional botanical community, or who may have made contributions to a combination of these categories."

Earlier this year, Walt Judd was the 2012 recipient of the José Cuatrecasas Medal for Excellence in Tropical Botany from the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution.

This award is given to a botanist and scholar of international stature who has contributed significantly to advancing the field of tropical Botany. The award was presented at the Smithsonian's Botanical Symposium "Transforming 21st Century Comparative Biology using Evolutionary Trees" on April 20-21, 2012.

In July 2011 the American Society of Plant Taxonomists announced at their annual meeting that Dr. Judd received the Society's 2011 Asa Gray Award. The award is named for Asa Gray (1810-1888), the most important American botanist of the 19th century, and recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of plant systematics.

Over his distinguished career Dr. Judd has published over 150 scientific articles in addition to his textbook. Throughout his career Dr. Judd has been at the forefront of integrating traditional anatomical approaches to understanding plant diversity with modern DNA-based techniques. He is also one of the world’s leading experts on Caribbean plant diversity, as well as on the heath and melastome plant families.

Dr. Judd received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1978 and joined the faculty at the University of Florida immediately thereafter. He also holds affiliate positions with the Florida Museum of Natural History and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and served as President of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists from 2000-2001.

About the American Society of Plant Taxonomists:
The American Society of Plant Taxonomists promotes the research and teaching of the taxonomy, systematics, and phylogeny of vascular and nonvascular plants. Organized in 1935, the Society has a membership of over 1300. The Society publishes Systematic Botany and Systematic Botany Monographs, supports a variety of honorary and charitable activities, and conducts scientific meetings each summer. Information on the Society’s 2011 joint meeting with three other American botanical societies (Botany 2011) can be found at


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Courtesy of John Haslam, Flickr

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