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simon mike fay phil seaton
mike hutcgings
phil crib
lauren gardiner alison lontay peter tobias



1). Mr Simon Pugh-Jones (Chair)

Simon Pugh-JonesSimon Pugh-Jones is a school teacher at Writhlington School in the UK and is the inspiration behind the school’s innovative orchid project. The project combines conservation, science and enterprise and centres on students raising orchid species from seed. Students take part in shows nationally and internationally, and their efforts have been recognised with awards including gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006 and 2009, a gold at the Cape Town Garden and Leisure Show 2007, and many other awards, medals and rosettes. The project has links in Central America, the Himalayas and IndoChina, allowing students to contribute to community orchid conservation projects and carry out field research linked to coursework. Trips in the last ten years have taken place to Sikkim, Laos, Belize, Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica and South Africa.

Simon is passionate about conservation that benefits plants, their habitats and the communities that share these habitats. Simon was a regional winner in Teacher of the Year 2003 and as a member of OSG’s Ex Situ Conservation Group is actively working to develop laboratory seed raising of orchids in schools internationally.

2). Dr Michael Fay
Michael FayDr Mike Fay is Head of Genetics at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. After studying genetics and tissue culture, he started work at Kew 20 years ago. For the first 10 years, he ran the Micropropagation Unit where many tropical and temperate orchids are propagated, mainly from seed. Then he moved to the Jodrell Laboratory (also at Kew) and established a programme in conservation genetics, with a major focus on UK species, but with other projects from elsewhere.

Orchids continue to be a major focus of his work, and current projects relate to conservation genetics of Cypripedium calceolus, Dactylorhiza spp., Liparis loeselii, Neotinea ustulata and Orchis spp. In addition to European orchids, he has also been involved in projects on orchids from elsewhere through collaborations with colleagues in Brazil, La Runion, the USA and elsewhere. He replaced Dr Phil Cribb as Chair of the IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group in 2006.

3). Philip Seaton
Philip SeatonA lecturer in biology by profession, Phil’s interest in orchids began as an amateur grower almost thirty years ago, and he soon became involved in the scientific aspects of orchid conservation in general, and the problems of setting up orchid seed banks in particular. Phil received the degree of Master of Philosophy in 1985 for researches into orchid seed storage, and changes in the gaseous composition of the atmosphere within culture flasks. He has subsequently pursued his interest in the storage of orchid germplasm whenever possible, with Hugh Pritchard of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He has had published more than eighty popular and scientific articles on a wide range of orchid related topics.

Philip was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship for the year 2000 to study the problems of the ex situ conservation of orchids in Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Philip is also Chair of the OSG’s Ex Situ Conservation Group.

4). Dr Phillip Cribb

Phillip CribbPhil Cribb joined the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1974 from where he retired as Deputy Keeper of the Herbarium and Curator of the Orchid Herbarium in 2006.

His particular interests are in Natural History and conservation. His current research is concentrated on a new classification of the family Orchidaceae, and on the taxonomy and conservation of orchids. He has participated in many expeditions, especially in the tropics, to study orchids in the field. He has also led botanical tours, especially in the tropics, for over 25 years.

He is the author or co-author of several books and over 400 papers on orchids. He is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Orchid Committee, the International Orchid Commission and is immediate past Chair of fhe Orchid Specialist Group SSC/IUCN.

5). Professor Mike Hutchings
Mike Hutchings is Professor of Ecology at the University of Sussex, UK. His doctoral training was in plant population ecology. Early in his career at Sussex he initiated several long-term studies of the population ecology and conservation of terrestrial orchid species of temperate grasslands, especially Ophrys sphegodes and Gymnadenia conopsea, and these datasets now cover continuous recording periods of up to thirty years. Analyses of these data, and others, on species such as Orchis militaris, have compared and contrasted the behaviour and fates of populations under contrasting management regimes, provided the scientific basis for selection of appropriate management for conservation, and been used to predict the effects of different scenarios on population persistence.

Amongst over one hundred scientific publications, Mike has written numerous papers on orchids and other rare species and their conservation, and has recently collaborated on analyses of recent changes in distribution range of rare species in different European countries. He is a member of the OSG’s In Situ Conservation Group. His other research interests include the restoration of calcareous grassland habitats, the ecology of clonal plant species, and the responses of individual plants, plant populations and plant communities to of environmental patchiness. He shares research collaborations with scientists in several European countries, Mexico, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and China.

6). Professor Harold Koopowitz

7). Dr Lauren Gardiner

Lauren has been involved in orchid conservation since 2002, and completed her PhD on the Phylogenetics and Conservation of the genus Vanda (Orchidaceae) in 2008, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the University of East Anglia, Norwich. She was involved in the formation of the Early Career Committee of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group and is currently Chair of the group and working towards its relaunch. Lauren is the Science Assistant to the Head of Science Policy and Coordination at RBG Kew, and also volunteers and works with the Sampled Red List Index, UK Overseas Territories, and Education teams at RBG Kew, coordinates the Disability Equality Group, and is a rep on the Sustainability Team. She also acts as Consultant Scientist to the Writhlington School Orchid Project, teaching students and leading on expeditions to see orchids in their natural habitats. Whilst working in the Conservation Biotechnology Unit at RBG Kew (formerly the Micropropagation Unit) for a year and half, Lauren specialised in growing tropical epiphytic orchids, as well as other orchids, carnivorous plants, and a range of endangered plants from the UK Overseas Territories, for the Living Collections and for research and conservation projects at RBG Kew. She has studied orchids in their natural habitats and in botanic gardens in Sikkim, Costa Rica, South Africa, Singapore, Java, Bali, south Florida, and the UK.

8). Alison Lontay

Alison Lontay is a Creative Art Director by training, the head of a Fashion Line called Miss Lontay and an orchid enthusiast who has incorporated the concept of Fashion and Conservation United in her line of lingerie, swim and fashion wear. Almost all of her designs are an artistic impression of rare orchids photographed by Alison herself in her travels around the world; bringing colour and Orchid Conservation awareness to a new demographics and younger audience. Having been named one of Kew Gardens personalities in 2005, her passion for Orchid Conservation has taken her through the path of raising consciousness to the general public through her professional and business internet sites where OCI has a preponderant place. Very focused on the opportunities that arise from the propagation of the idea to support OCI through fund raising, Alison has taken the word of Conservation in her travels to America, the Middle and Far East and Oceania.

9). Dr Peter Tobias
Peter TobiasPeter Tobias is Professor of Immunology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. As best he can tell, this job has absolutely nothing to do with orchids. However, he was the first chairman of the San Diego County Orchid Society’s Conservation Committee. He resigned that position in 2005 to found the Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA). The OCA is an American non-profit corporation with the mission of raising funds from orchid enthusiasts to preserve wild orchid habitat. As of this writing in 2006 the OCA has raised $10,000 to purchase land in Ecuador for the Ecoming Foundation near Banos.


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