Botany's McDade Receives Society's Highest Honor


Lucinda McDade has come a long way from the time, as a youngster, she discovered her \”green thumb\” by planting an avocado seed in her South Florida backyard and watching it come to be a little tree that effectively dislocated her mother's clothesline. Refer to it as her \”Jack and also the Beanstalk\” epiphany.

\”I learned quickly that sometimes what you plant may come up quickly and grow bigger than you believe, so you have to think through where you are going to plant things,\” explains McDade, who chairs CGU’s Botany Department as well as serving as Judith B. Friend Director of Research and executive director of the California Botanic Garden. \”I was raised at any given time when kids ran wild like little savages for the entire summer. We gathered things, tried to keep lightning bugs alive, caught land crabs-and we grew stuff.\”

Those experiences in her own youth translated into a very successful career as a botanist that has been recognized with major awards within the field, including being recently named the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award recipient, which is the American Horticultural Society’s highest honor.

The award honors McDade’s lifetime contributions towards the field.

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Award would go to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions in at least three of the following horticultural fields: teaching, research, communications, plant exploration, administration, art, business, and leadership.

The award, which is named after horticulturist, educator, and author Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858 -1954), took McDade completely by surprise.

When the news finally went public, McDade received an outpouring of positive responses from colleagues and former students.

\”A quantity of my students who had finished their degrees some years ago emailed me to say congrats,\” she says. \”They could remember me recommending Liberty Hyde Bailey's Manual of Cultivated Plants like a totally amazing book. So they thought it was somehow appropriate which i got the award.\”

McDade began her career in earnest as an undergraduate at Tulane University, where she was mentored by Arthur Weldon, who encouraged her to pursue a career in botany.

\”I was lucky enough to give a talk at Tulane some time once i finished my degree, as a bonafide card-carrying scientist,” she says, “and that i could thank him publicly poor the seminar.\”

Climate Change & Other Serious Threats

Since visiting CGU in 2006, McDade did hard to establish ties with other CGU disciplines.

\”We don't really squeeze into the other schools,\” she says. \”I’ll possess a friendly argument with the mathematicians, but aside from them, we're the university’s natural science programs. There are numerous social science at CGU, but, as biologists, we're in an area that’s really quite different.\”

According to McDade, climate change and habitat destruction would be the greatest threats facing plant life.

\”They work together,\” she says. \”Think about this poor the la basin. Let's say there are populations of plants and animals that occur across the southern coast of California and they need to move further north because their proper habitat is migrating north. How could they be going to naturally move across the entire populated concrete and asphalt of the L.A. basin? They'll not be able to do that.\”

McDade says another serious concern relates to the mountainous parts of California.

\”There is special concern for plants that occur at high elevations because, because the climate warms, these plants need to move higher,” she explains. “But if they're already on the tops of mountain ranges, other product spot to go. They are literally from a rock and a hard place!\”

Currently McDade is immersed in a variety of kinds of plant research from the type the American Horticultural Society found fit to acknowledge using its highest award.

\”I've had the opportunity to build a good network of people that collaborate on projects together, so, we've got lots of excellent achievements going,\” she says with an enthusiasm that's almost infectious. \”I have a post-doc who's also a research assistant professor at CGU, and we're focusing on just a terrific project that involves an incredibly and richly diverse branch from the family tree of Acanthaceae that have flowers that vary in lengths from about 1/4 of one inch to 6-8 inches and are pollinated by everything from tiny little bees, moths, and butterflies to hummingbirds. It's all regulated so super exciting!\”

It's funny what can take root from a tiny avocado seed.

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