Governance of the Society


Professor Paul M Brakefield FRS, our current President, whose term began on 22 May 2015, is Professor of Zoology and Director at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge. He is an evolutionary biologist who has always been fascinated by the evolution of butterfly wing patterns. He previously held the Chair in Evolutionary Biology at Leiden University and University of Sheffield, prior to which he was a research fellow at the University of Wales, Cardiff.


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 Malcolm Scoble, Rosie Atkins, Professor Juliet Brodie, and Professor Simon Hiscock



Deborah Wright worked as the Senior Journal Publishing Manager at Wiley-Blackwell. She has served on several Societies and community groups, including holding the officer roles of honorary treasurer, secretary and chair. She is co-author with Sandra Knapp on a chapter E-Publish or Perish, Systema Naturae 250—The Linnaean Ark. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and a member of the Freshwater Biological Association.

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 nomination form.

Dr Maarten Christenhusz is a freelance botanist working on plant classification. He works with IUCN to redlist European ferns. He has been an active member of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society editorial board since 2009 and is now its Deputy Chief Editor. He has worked in scientific curation at the Finnish Museum of Natural History; The Natural History Museum, London; and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; where he is Honorary Research Associate.

Dr Christopher Michaels is a herpetologist at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). He graduated with a First Class Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford and recently completed his PhD at the University of Manchester (UoM). In his current role, Chris maintains the Living Collection of amphibians and reptiles at ZSL. Furthermore, he is a Harrison Institute Trustee, a Visiting Scientist at UoM and a founder/organiser of the Annual Amphibian Conservation Research Symposium. 

Dr Paul Smith is the Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). He is former Head of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank (MSB). During his nine years at the helm there, seeds from more than 25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB. He is the recipient of the New England Wildflower Society's medal for services to international plant conservation, and a Trustee on two boards in the US and UK. 

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.

Dr Paul Bates is a graduate of Keble College, Oxford; and has a PhD in Zoology from Royal Holloway College. He was bestowed an Honorary PhD in 2012 by Prince of Songkla University, Thailand; for academic excellence, contribution and dedication to the advancement of higher education in Southeast Asia. He is Honorary Research Fellow at Bristol University and Prince of Songkla University. He was appointed Director of the Harrison Institute in 1994. 

Dr Zerina Johanson is Merit Researcher and Head in the Department of Earth Sciences, Vertebrates and Anthropology Palaeobiology division at the Natural History Museum, London. She gained her BSc and MSc from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and her PhD from School of Earth Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Her research is centred on the evolution and development of the early vertebrate skeleton, focusing on dentitions and the postaxial skeleton. 

Dr Rosie Trevelyan is Director of the Tropical Biology Association. She previously worked in marine conservation in Kenya and was a research scientist at Oxford University and at the British Trust for Ornithology. She has a BA and Doctorate in Zoology from the University of Oxford. Rosie is a member of several committees and boards of organisations that promote conservation science, education and outreach. 

Professor Juliet Brodie is a research phycologist at the Natural History Museum, London. She has contributed to government initiatives such as the Scientific Advisory Panel for Marine Conservation Zones. Juliet was also a Biological Sciences panel member for the latest Research Excellence Framework for assessing research in all UK Higher Education Institutes. She has over 25 years of Council experience for Societies, she was President of the British Phycological Society and the Systematics Association.

Dr Michael Fay is the Editor of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. He is the Senior Research Leader in Conservation Genetics at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Michael is Chair of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group. He has served two previous terms on Council (2003–06 and 2008–11) and has been a regular observer on Council (as Editor of BJLS) since 2011. Michael has served as a Vice President (2006–08) and as a member of the Taxonomy and Systematics and Audit Committees. 

Rosie Atkins was Curator of Chelsea Physic Garden for 9 years until 2010. She has been Chairman of the Awards Committee at the RHS; the Horticulture Board, the Gardens Committee, Lindley Library and Arts Committee, Woody Plants Committee, and Garden Advisor for RHS Rosemoor. She has been a Trustee of Great Dixter Charitable Trust since 2008 and served on the English Heritage Garden Panel (2011–) and the committee of the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association (2012–). Rosie was also a founder and Chairman of London Gardens Network. 

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 Nick Crumpton is a zoologist, currently working at the Royal Society. He previously worked at ZSL, University College London and the Natural History Museum, London. He was awarded his BSc in Ecology from the University of Leeds, and an MSc in Palaeobiology from the University of Bristol; for which he was awarded the Geologists' Association prize for 'Best UK Thesis'. During his PhD, Nick was awarded a British Science Association Media Fellowship to work as part of the BBC Science Radio Unit and BBC Online.

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 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).


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