The Society for Economic Botany

Fostering research and education on the past, present, and future uses of plants by people.

Distinguished Economic Botanists


The award of "Distinguished Economic Botanist (DEB)" is bestowed annually by the Society upon an individual on the basis of outstanding accomplishments pertinent to the goals of the Society. A nominee does not need to be a member of the Society. The Chairperson of the Nominations and Awards Committee shall be responsible for the citation which shall be published in Economic Botany. The only responsibility of the awardee shall be to present an address at the annual meeting the year of his/her selection. He/she shall become an honorary member of the Society for life.

Recipients of the Distinguished Economic Botanist award are:

2023 - Dr. Bradley C. Bennett

Dr. Bradley C. Bennett

2022 - Dr. Diane Ragone

Diane Ragone         

Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, has been dedicated to conserving, studying, and promoting breadfruit for 35 years. She is the acknowledged expert on this crop. 

Through fieldwork on 50 Pacific islands to document breadfruit diversity and associated knowledge she established and curates the world’s largest repository of breadfruit diversity, preserving 150 cultivars—many of them rare and vanishing in their homelands. Numerous researchers and students have worked with Dr. Ragone to systematically study this unique genetic resource with the goal of better understanding breadfruit to enhance its conservation and use. 

Dr. Ragone has written or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed papers, technical reports, and book chapters, as well as popular articles on breadfruit. She has also forged partnerships with universities, botanical gardens, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, communities, businesses, and others to foster appreciation and use of this heretofore underutilized crop. Diane spearheaded a collaborative project to develop new methods to propagate breadfruit. That work was key to launching a global initiative in 2009 to distribute nutritious varieties for food, agroforestry and economic development. To date, more than 100,000 breadfruit trees have been distributed to 44 countries, primarily to smallholder farmers.

Diane’s work epitomizes the field of economic botany through the synergy of horticulture and ethnobotany: quest for knowledge, preservation, conservation, research, creative experimentation, sharing, mentoring, and fulfilling a humanitarian mission. Her involvement with the Society of Economic Botany since 1987 has helped shape and guide her multidisciplinary approach.


2021 - Dr. Pablo Eyzaguirre

Pablo Ezyaguirre         

Dr. Eyzaguirre is best known for his work on agricultural resilience, food security, and climate change in rural communities worldwide. Trained as an anthropologist (PhD, Yale, 1986), his work has been highly interdisciplinary, at the crossroads of nutrition, plant genetic resources, and rural livelihoods. It has often shone light on topics previously overlooked in research and policy: the intersection of nutrition and ethnobotany, for example in the role of leafy wild vegetables, seed conservation in small-scale agriculture, home gardens, gender, and resilience and climate change. Dr. Eyzaguirre’s work has been truly international in scope, starting with fieldwork in west Africa and expanding to take in most regions of the world, and many of the topics that fall within the remit of the Society for Economic Botany.

A truly distinctive element of this life’s work is a commitment to catalysing research and policy development by others. Much of this has been accomplished through Bioversity International, Dr Eyzaguirre’s base for most of his career, and is manifested through countless workshops, reports, policy initiatives and projects that have disseminated skills and methods worldwide. Publications form only a part of this output, but over 5000 citations testify to their impact. Dr. Eyzaguirre has also served the discipline in other ways: as President of the International Society of Ethnobiology (2004-2006), advisor to the Groupe de Recherche Mosaïque (CNRS-CEFE Montpellier), and as member of the science panel for the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

This remarkable body of work linking biodiversity and health is more important than ever, given the likely impact of climate on rural communities. We are glad to honour Pablo Eyzaguirre for his critical role in widening the horizons of our community, and his generous sharing of insights and methods that will be essential in the urgent work that lies ahead.


      

No Award Given
2020

Pablo Ezyaguirre
Dr. Pablo Ezyaguirre
2021

Diane RagoneDr. Diane Ragone
2022

Dr. Bradlety C. Bennett
Dr. Bradley C. Bennett
2023

   

 

2010s

 


Dr. John Rashford 
2019

 

 


Dr. Gary Nabhan 
2018

 

 


Dr. Roy Ellen
2017

 

 

Dr. Tony Cunningham
2016

 

 
Dr. Daniel Moerman
2015

 


Dr. Jan Salick
2014

 

 


Dr. Will McClatchey
2013

 


Dr. Djaja Djendoel Soejarto
2012

 


Dr. Nancy Turner
2011

 


Drs. Edelmira Linares and Robert Bye
2010

 

2000s

 


Michael Balick &
Nina Etkin*   
2009

 


Brent and
Elois Ann Berlin
2008

 


W. Hardy Eshbaugh
2007

 


Walter Lewis &
Memory Elvin-Lewis
2006

 


Harold C. Conklin
2005
[ Profile ]

 


Gordon Hillman
2004

 


Daniel Zohary
2003 *
Bibliography

 


Sir Ghillean Prance
2002
Bibliography

 


Isabella Abbott
2001 *
Bibliography

 


James Duke
2000
Bibliography

 

1990s

 


S. K. Jain
1999

 


Hugh. H. Iltis
1998

 


Carlos Ochoa
1997 *

 


Jack G. Hawkes
1996 *

 


Varro E. Tyler
1995 *

 


Walton C. Galinat
1994 *

 


Mildred Mathias
1993 *

 


Douglas Yen
1992

 


N. W. Simmonds
1991 *

 


Herbert G. Baker
1990 *

 

1980s

 


Jack L. Beal
1989 *

 


Oswald Tippo
1988 *

 


Charles Rick
1987 *

 


E. Hernández X.
1986 *

 


Jack R. Harlan
1985 *

 


Charles B. Heiser
1984 *

 


N. R. Farnsworth
1983 *

 


William L. Brown
1982 *

 


William H. Tallent
1981 *

 


T. Whitaker
1980 *

 

1970s
 

 


R. E. Schultes
1979 *
 

 


Julia F. Morton
1978 *
 

 


* deceased