Dr. John Robert Clark Appointed Executive Director of the Center for Plant Conservation

Dr. John Robert Clark
article top
Dr. John Robert Clark
Dr. John Robert Clark

The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) is pleased to announce Dr. John Robert Clark will serve as the CPC’s Executive Director effective October 13, 2014. The Center is an independent, not-for-profit association of more than 40 botanical gardens, arboreta, and other similar organizations, including Honolulu Botanical Gardens, that work actively to conserve the most imperiled plants of the United States and Canada. Dr. Clark will take up his duties at CPC’s headquarters, which are located at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Mo.

Dr. Clark, a native of southern Ohio, obtained his bachelor’s (1996) and master’s (2000) degrees at the University of Cincinnati, the latter advised by Dr. Jerry Snider, and his doctorate degree at Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. (2008) advised by Dr. Eric Roalson and in collaboration with Dr. Warren L. Wagner of the Smithsonian Institution. His dissertation research was on the relationships and biogeography of the Pacific genus Cyrtandra, members of the plant family Gesneriaceae, the African violet family. Along the way, Clark studied at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, a CPC Participating Institution, with Dr. Valerie Pence, and then worked at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota, Fla., on the taxonomy and curation of Gesneriaceae collections there.


Following completion of his doctorate, he returned to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for three years and then worked as senior plant biologist at the Catalina Island Conservancy in Southern California before moving to his current position in Hawaii as McBryde Senior Research Fellow and Co-director of Science and Conservation at the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), another CPC Participating Institution.

At NTBG, Clark led efforts to describe and understand Pacific Island plant diversity and to develop plant conservation initiatives in the Hawaiian Islands. He has continued to study Cyrtandra, a group of plants that has proliferated into 60 species in the Hawaiian islands, about half of them seriously endangered, and with hundreds of additional species marking its dispersal path across the Pacific from Southeast Asia.

The mission of the Center for Plant Conservation is to conserve and restore the imperiled native plants of the United States to secure them from extinction. It is a nonprofit organization that works with 39 leading botanical institutions across the country to fulfill its mission. These institutions maintain the Center for Plant Conservation’s National Collection of Endangered Plants. The collection contains plant material from more than 750 of America’s most at-risk native plants. This material is used for research purposes and restoration work that could return these plants to their natural habitats in the future.

The Center’s program is coordinated by their national office in St. Louis, Mo. and guided by a volunteer board of trustees and the experts of a science advisory council. By developing standards and protocols, conducting conservation programs in horticulture, research and restoration, and raising awareness, the Center for Plant Conservation’s network is striving to save America’s most imperiled plants from being lost forever. For additional information about the Center for Plant Conservation, visit the website at www.centerforplantconservation.org.