Professor Sir Peter Crane is President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Virginia, an estate of Rachel Lambert Mellon that includes an exquisite garden as well as an exceptional library focused on the history of plant science, plant exploration, and the development of gardens and landscape design. The Foundation is dedicated to inspiring and facilitating scholarship and public dialogue on the uses, history and future of plants, including their importance for human well-being and in the culture of gardens and landscapes.
From 2009 to 2016 Peter Crane was the Carl W. Knobloch Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES) at Yale University and retains his affiliation with the School as Senior Research Scientist. During his seven years at Yale, Peter Crane strengthened F&ES by emphasising faculty excellence and recruiting eminent scholars; setting the school on solid financial footing in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn; leading the modernisation and strategic renewal of facilities to support the school’s academic mission; and fostering interdisciplinary and inter-school collaboration. Peter Salovey, President of Yale, said that Peter Crane “positioned F&ES as an exemplar of diversity, global perspective, and civic engagement”.
Peter Crane is known internationally for his work on the diversity of plant life – its origin, fossil history, current status, conservation and use. He received his BSc and PhD degrees in botany from the University of Reading, UK and served on the faculty of that university from 1978 to 1981. In 1981 he moved to Indiana University, and from 1982 to 1999 he was at the Field Museum in Chicago. From 1992 to 1999 he served as Director of the Field Museum with overall responsibility for the Museum’s scientific programmes. He also established the Office of Environmental Programs and the Center for Cultural Understanding and Change at the Field Museum.
From 1999 to 2006, Peter Crane was Director of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew one of the largest, most prestigious and influential botanical gardens in the world. In 2002, Kew was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. His tenure at Kew saw strengthening and expansion of the gardens’ scientific, conservation and public programmes on the variety of plant life as well as major improvements to the infrastructure for collections, science, public and staff. He returned to Chicago in 2006 as the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor at The University of Chicago before being recruited to Yale in 2009.
Peter Crane was elected to the Royal Society – the UK academy of sciences in 1998 and was knighted in the UK for services to horticulture and conservation in 2004. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a Member of the German Academy Leopoldina. He is the recipient of several honorary degrees from universities in the UK and US, including honorary doctorates of science including from the University of Connecticut in the US and Cambridge University in the UK. He received the International Prize for Biology in December 2014.
Peter Crane currently serves on the Boards of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Field Museum, The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Yale-NUS College and Wellesley College.