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Barrett in the Pantanal region in Brazil in 2015

Spencer Barrett recognized with Darwin-Wallace Medal

April 29, 2021

Spencer Barrett has received the prestigious Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London.

The medal is named after Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace who independently developed the theory of evolution by natural selection.

“I’m quite chuffed and delighted. It’s an honour,” says Barrett, a University Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Arts & Science’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB). “I’m a great admirer of both Darwin and Wallace … What’s more, I’m delighted to receive the honour because recipients of the medal have predominantly been zoologists.

“Not many botanists have received it.”

A leading authority on the reproductive biology and genetics of flowering plants, Barrett is also an internationally recognized expert on the ecology and genetics of plant invasions and the environmental consequences of genetically modified crops.

“Spencer Barrett’s research group has made wide-ranging contributions to our understanding of plant reproduction, spanning ecology and evolution to genetics and genomics,” says Stephen Wright, EEB chair.

The medal recognizes Barrett’s teaching and mentorship as well as his research. From 1990 to 2018, Barrett taught the award-winning introductory biology course, BIO 120, introducing tens of thousands of first-year students – including Wright who now teaches it – to evolutionary biology.

“We taught the students about the story of evolution and life on Earth and about Darwin and Wallace,” says Barrett. “I’m honoured to receive a medal bearing their names.”

Read the Faculty of Arts & Science story