Governance of the Society

The Society is governed by a Council of 20 members, which include the President, Treasurer and Secretaries


Dr Sandy Knapp began her career in the Natural History Museum, London, managing the Flora Mesoamericana project; but has since worked on a monograph of Solanum. She is Vice President of the International Association of Plant Taxonomists (2011–2017), a Member of the Task Force on Knowledge and Data, the International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2014–2018), and a Member of the BBSRC Bioscience for Society Strategy Panel (2009–2015). Moreover, she was the Linnean Society of London’s Botanical Secretary (2006–2011) and its Vice-President (2008–2012). In 2016, Sandy was awarded the Linnean Medal for her service to science.


Dr Olwen Grace, Professor Paul Henderson CBE, Dr Blanca Huertas and Dr Malcolm Scoble



Dr Mark Watson is Head of the Major Floras Research Programme at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. He is the author and editor of Flora of Bhutan, author and member of the Editorial Board of Flora of China, and author and Editor-in-Chief of Flora of Nepal. Mark has a long association with the Linnean Society, starting with his research on the Linnean Collections and library as part of his PhD, and continuing giving lectures and introducing Ambassadors and other diplomats to the treasures in the collections.

Scientific Secretaries

Professor Simon Hiscock is Director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum. Simon is an Editor of Annals of Botany, AoB Plants, and Journal of Botany. He has sat on peer review committees and panels for NERC, and he Chairs the Education Committee at the Linnean Society. One of Simon’s major achievements has been directing the design and development of a new Botanic Garden at Bristol, the first at a British University for nearly 50 years.

Dr Malcolm Scoble was Keeper (Department Head) of Entomology at the Natural History Museum, London, until his retirement in 2010. His links with the museum continue as a Scientific Associate. He holds a PhD from Rhodes University and a DSc from the University of London. During his career he also held positions as the Transvaal Museum, Pretoria; and the University Museum of Natural History at Oxford. He was President of the British Entomological & Natural History Society (1995/96) and was awarded the Karl Jordan Medal by the American Lepidopterists’ Society in 2002.

Collections Secretary

Dr John David is the Head of Horticultural Taxonomy at the Royal Horticultural Society. John is also Associate Editor for the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, a member of Plant Heritage Council, the Chelsea Physic Garden Advisory Committee, as well as a trustee of the John Spedan Lewis Foundation and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust.

Editorial Secretary

Professor Mark Chase is Senior Research Professor at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he has developed a world-leading programme in molecular phylogenetics. He is interested in the study of angiosperms but he has also published on ferns, conifers, red algae, molluscs and fungi, with more than 450 papers to date. He received the Linnean Medal for Botany in 1998 and the Society's Darwin-Wallace Medal in 2009. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003.


The Council consists of 20 elected Fellows, including the Officers. Council Members constitute the Trustees of the Charity who meet four times a year to consider and ratify the recommendations made by Officers. At least five members of Council retire annually. Elections for Council and Officers are held annually at the Anniversary meeting in May. To nominate a new member of Council, please use our Council Nomination Form.

Dr Colin Clubbe is Head of the Conservation Science Department at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Colin gained his PhD from Imperial College and is an Honorary Research Fellow at IC. Moreover, he is a Trustee of Falklands Conservation and the Chagos Conservation Trust.

Dr Natasha de Vere is Head of Science at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, a Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University and a Trustee for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. She has been responsible for the science programme at the Botanic Garden for the last eleven years. A notable achievement was leading the team that made Wales the first nation in the world to DNA barcode all of its native flowering plants. Her current research focuses on using DNA metabarcoding to understand honeybee and wild pollinator foraging and conservation genomics of threatened plants.

Mathew Frith is an urban ecologist with 30 years’ experience of land management policy and practice in nature conservation with voluntary organisations, public bodies and Government agencies. He has managed nature reserves, and worked with various organisations to develop and promote better understanding of biodiversity conservation in urban areas, whether it’s in private gardens, parks or housing estates. As Director of Conservation for London Wildlife Trust, he currently oversees the management and development of the Trust’s nature reserves, develops the policy base to advocate the protection, creation and promotion of a wilder city, and furthering the Trust’s research work. Mathew is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management, the Society for the Environment, and a Green Flag Award judge.

Professor Beverly Glover is Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. She is a Trustee of The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and has served on the Councils of the Systematics Association and the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology. She has considerable editorial expertise, serving on the editorial boards of several high impact journals. Her award-winning 2007 book Understanding flowers and flowering: an integrated approach was reprinted twice, and in 2014 a second and expanded edition was published. She was the recipient of the Linnean Bicentenary Medal in 2010 and is also a long standing member of the Education committee.

Professor Anjali Goswami is a palaeontologist specialising in the evolution of vertebrates. Currently a research Leader at the Natural History Museum. Her work is highly integrative and her publications appear in high impact journals in the field, such as PNAS and Evolution. Professor Goswami has been the recipient of several large grants for her work– mostly notably an ERC grant for the study of adaptive evolution of vertebrates and a grant from the US National Science Foundation for innovation in the visualisation of digital collection data. She has been the co-director of the Centre for Ecology and Evolution (CEE) since 2014, served on the Council of the Linnean Society from 2012-2015, and was a member of the Society’s Programmes Committee.

Dr Olwen Grace is a botanist, currently working at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on evolution and value of succulent plants as natural capital. She has previously worked as a postdoctoral Marie Curie Fellow in the laboratory of Nina Ronsted (University of Copenhagen) and as a lecturer in ethnobotany at the University of Kent (UK). She was awarded her BSc (cum laude) from the University of Natal in 1999 and her MSc (cum laude) from the same university in 2001. She has been the recipient of several research grants, and acts as a peer-reviewer for a wide range of funding bodies worldwide. She has published more than 35 peer-reviewed papers and 22 book chapters. Dr Grace actively supervises students at both MSc and PhD stages in the UK, Europe and Africa, and has been on several external examination boards.

Professor Paul Henderson CBE is an Honorary Professor of Earth Sciences at University College London and researches the development of natural history during the Enlightenment. He was Director of Science at the Natural History Museum, London where he previously held positions as Keeper of Mineralogy and Director of Earth Sciences. He was a Trustee of the Horniman Museum and Public Park Trust from 2004-2012, President of the Mineralogical Society from 1989-1991 and a Vice President of the Geological Society from 2002-2008. He was appointed CBE in 2003. He is the author of a biography of the natural history illustrator and taxonomist, James Sowerby, published in 2015, who worked closely with the Founder of the Linnean Society of London, Sir James Edward Smith.

Professor Alistair Hetherington is a botanist who holds the Melville Wills Chair of Botany in Bristol. Alistair was a member of BBSRC Strategy Board and has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of DEFRA, the Governing Councils of the John Innes Centre, the National Garden of Wales and the Marine Biological Association. He is currently an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and held a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in 2014–15. In 2018 he was awarded a DSc (hon causa) from University College Dublin. Since 1996 he has been an Editor of New Phytologist and from 2012, Editor in Chief.

Professor Alan Hildrew is an ecologist with particular interests in freshwater ecosystems. He is Professor of Ecology at QMUL currently working on a synthesis of thirty years research on a model stream community, how it has responded to environmental changes, and how its food web is structured. He is Editor of Freshwater Biology and Chairman of the Freshwater Biological Association.

Dr Blanca Huertas is Senior Curator of Lepidoptera at the Natural History Museum, London. Blanca gained her MSc and PhD from Imperial College. She has worked as a coordinator for the Tropical Andean Butterfly Project (Darwin Initiative, UCL), and is a member of the Steering Committee of the IUCN Butterfly Specialist Group and the North American Butterflies Association Scientific Names Committee (NABA).

Professor Dame Georgina Mace FRS is a world leader in conservation biology. She has contributed to the new UN Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Georgina has shown leadership in many national and international organisations, as President of the International Society for Conservation Biology and the British Ecological Society. She has led the scientific committee of the international global environmental change network—DIVERSITAS— and directed the Institute of Zoology, the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College London, and currently the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at UCL. She is a Council member of the Royal Society, the Natural Environment Research Council, and World Wildlife Fund (UK).

Dr Silvia Pressel is a Researcher in Botanical Diversity at the Natural History Museum (NHM). Her research integrates expertise in bryophyte systematics, evolution, anatomy and in-vitro culturing to tackle major questions on the origin and evolution of key innovations of land plants including stomata, cuticles, desiccation-tolerance and fungal symbioses. She obtained her PhD from Queen Mary University of London in 2006, and was a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow, followed by an Early Career Lecturer at QMUL from 2007-2010. She is an Editor of the journal Annals of Botany and is involved in teaching a postgraduate course: Taxonomic Principles and Tools in Botanical Research. In 2015, Dr Pressel received the Linnean Society’s Trail-Crisp Award for her outstanding work in microscopy.

Professor Max Telford is the founding Director of the UCL Centre for Life’s Evolution and Origins. He has previously served on the Council of the Society from 2007–10 and again from 2014–17. He was a faithful attendee participating fully in activities of the Society and acting as Vice President 2014–17. A passionate support of inclusivity and diversity in science, he has participated for the past three years as a mentor in the Destination STEMM scheme for Black students living or studying in Greater London and is also an advocate for the Athena SWAN activities of his department and the wider university. His experience in Society activities is varied, including editorial boards and editorship of high impact journals.

Stephanie West is the UK Biodiversity Training Manager in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum (NHM). She holds a BSc in Environmental Protection from Bournemouth University, and two post-graduate certificates in Biological Recording and Education respectively. She has taught and led courses in ecology and biological recording, and most recently has managed a large HLF grant “Identification Trainers for the Future”.


The Society aims to maintain a balance between the different branches of biology, by convention the Presidency alternates between a zoologist and a botanist/mycologist, as do several of the Society’s prizes.

The Society aims to be open and transparent in its elections. Full details of candidates for election to Council are published in the Anniversary Meeting Agenda and any member who has been admitted and attends the Anniversary Meeting can vote. Council members are carefully briefed on their duties as Trustees of the Society which is a registered charity No. 220509.

The Executive Secretary is happy to answer any questions about the governance of the Society.

Further reading