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ABC's Mark Blumenthal Awarded 2012 Jean Andrews Visiting Faculty Fellowship at University of Texas

The American Botanical Council is honored to announce that the 2012 Jean Andrews Visiting Faculty Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) has been awarded to ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. The fellowship entails 3 lectures over the course of 3 days in April in Austin, Texas; the first lecture will be promoted as a university event, the second will be geared toward graduate plant biology students, and the third will take place at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center following a reception (B. Simpson, e-mail, August 15, 2011.)

The fellowship’s namesake and founder is the late Jean Andrews, PhD—aka “The Pepper Lady”—who received her BA at the University of Texas and published several books through the UT’s press, including her highly regarded book on Capsicum spp. (Solanceae) peppers.1 Dr. Andrews established 2 fellowships at UT, the other being the Jean Andrews Centennial Faculty Fellowship in Human Nutrition.1 Past recipients of the Jean Andrews Visiting Faculty Fellowship include ABC Board of Trustees member Michael Balick, PhD (1997), and Advisory Board members Mark Plotkin, PhD (1989), Hardy Eshbaugh, PhD (1993), Paul Cox , PhD (2000), Timothy Johns, PhD (2001), Will McClatchey, PhD (2007), and Nancy Turner, PhD (2010) (B. Simpson, e-mail communication, September 2-October 4, 2011).

“Jean wanted important people in the areas of tropical (because of her interests in Costa Rica) and economic botany (her peppers, etc.) to come and interact with students. The first couple of speakers were here for only a day and Jean wanted that changed so that there would be ample time for the visitor to meet with students,” said Beryl Simpson, PhD, the C.L. Lundell Professor of Systemic Botany and director of the Plant Resources Center at UT’s School of Biological Sciences (e-mail, September 14, 2011).

Dr. Simpson previously selected the fellow in collaboration with Dr. Andrews. Presently, Dr. Simpson decides unilaterally, taking into consideration the suggestions of students and faculty.

“I was surprised and am deeply honored to have been chosen to give the Jean Andrews Visiting Faculty lectures next spring,” said Blumenthal. “Jean was a remarkable woman, and her passion for native uses of herbs and medicinal plants—particularly the capsicums—is legendary. I am also grateful and humbled to be chosen to join the list of some of the most respected names in ethnobotany who Jean and Dr. Simpson have chosen for this fellowship over the past several decades. This choice is an acknowledgement of the pioneering and strategic educational publications and programs that ABC conducts in the field of medicinal plants and ethnobotany.”

In addition to the lectures, the fellowship also comprises a traditional dinner. “[Jean] used to host a dinner—originally one that she cooked and later prepared in her house by a chef she hired. With her own health failing, and upon learning that her chef had died when she tried to find him one fall, she moved the dinner to a restaurant,” said Dr. Simpson. “We have been having a small dinner at the AT&T Center since her death.”

—Ashley Lindstrom


  1. Lindner KE. Jean Andrews 1923-2010. HerbalGram. 2010;86:77-78.