Charles Darwin through his evolutionary theory proposed that all living things were "netted together" by a common ancestry. Few people appreciate that Darwin was also a preeminent botanist. Darwin's study of the plant kingdom was his life-long passion and botany was the center of each stage of his life. As an undergraduate he collected plant specimens from Wale's for his professor's herbarium and his study at Cambridge was greatly influenced by the botanist John S. Henslow. During the voyage of the Beagle in the Galapagos he collected plants from each of the four islands he visited. Darwin had an understanding of the links between the flora and fauna of the Galapagos and the nearby coast of Ecuador. Darwin said that he "collected every plant which he could see that was in flower, and it was flowering season". Over his life Darwin published six books on a wide range of botanical topics and was in regular correspondence with famous botanists Asa Gray and Joseph Hooker. Plants came before the finches in the birth of Darwinian evolution. The plant specimens collected by Darwin in the Galapagos number well over 200 and, according to some, make up the single most influential natural history collection of live organisms in the history of science. Today we walk in the footsteps of Darwin to look at the plants that helped inform his theory of evolution.
Tom Evans Bio:
Dr. Tom Evans received his B.S. and M.S. in botany and his Ph.D. in botany and plant pathology from Michigan State University in 1985. Dr. Evans has spent 30 years at the University of Delaware in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources where he is professor of botany and plant pathology. Dr. Evans is a leader both nationally and internationally in plant pathology and food security and is known for his passionate delivery of programs in plant health in developing countries. Dr. Evans has maintained a strong international program focused on food security throughout his career working in Ecuador, Morocco, Egypt, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Tom served as the director of 10 UD Winterim study abroad programs Ecuador in the Galapagos teaching Flora of the Ecuador and Galapagos to more than 200 students over the years. He currently serves the Vice-President of the International Society for Plant Pathology and as organizing chair for the International Congress of Plant Pathology to be held in Boston in 2018.