January 22, 2010

Arnold Arboretum’s Robert Cook retires after 21 years

Last month, Robert E. Cook retired as director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University after having led the institution for over two decades. The Arnold Arboretum’s involvement with CTFS goes back to the early 1980s when Steve Hubbell and Peter Ashton (then director of the Arboretum) agreed to replicate the BCI plot in Malaysia. Today the CTFS network comprises 34 plots around the world and represents a rich, exemplary tradition of collaborative science.

Bob Cook has played a significant role in sustaining and advancing CTFS research and training, particularly in tropical Asia. Under his directorship in 2003, the Arboretum joined the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in supporting CTFS’s core Asian research. That agreement was renewed in 2007 with the Arboretum furthering its commitment to CTFS research in Asia.

Bob has also been instrumental in involving CTFS in undergraduate and graduate education at Harvard and abroad. Through its annual Biodiversity of Borneo summer course and International Field Biology Course, CTFS exposes students to the remarkable biodiversity of the Asian tropics and introduces them to the complexities of conservation and forest management.

Plant science has benefited greatly from Bob’s long career in research and academic administration. In 1989, he came to the Arnold Arboretum from Cornell University, where he had been the director of Cornell Plantations and an associate professor of ecology and systematics. Prior to that he was an associate professor at Harvard. We appreciate his support and leadership over many years and wish him the very best in retirement.