Leadership

Get to know our Board of Directors. All IPS Officers are elected for two-year terms, serving from one Biennial to the next. The Board of Directors is divided into groups elected for four-year terms. The groups are elected at alternating biennials to ensure continuity within the IPS Board.

  • Ray Hernandez

    President

    Florida, USA

    Ray Hernandez is a native Floridian, born and raised in Tampa, Florida. In 1993, he received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Florida. Today, he is a Senior Project Engineer for an Aerospace company that develops and builds rocket and satellite components. He first took an avid interest in palms upon seeing Thomas Edison’s Royal Palms in Ft. Myers, Florida. Eleven years later, he grows over 300 species of palms in 120 genera and his passion for palms is as strong as ever. Ray was President of the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society and has penned many cultivation articles for the CFPACS quarterly Palmateer. While his work is drastically different from his hobby, he has taken advantage of business trips to South America and Asia to see various palm species in their native habitat. Ray has been instrumental in organizing many CFPACS events and could assist the IPS in the organization of future Biennials.

    Affiliated Organizations: Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society

  • Jeff Brusseau

    Vice President

    jbrusseau@newportnational.biz

    Vista, California, USA

    Jeffry Brusseau was born in Fargo, North Dakota on April 12, 1957. He is the oldest of the five children of Bruce and Clarice Brusseau. The family moved to Newport Beach, California in 1963. Jeffry attended private and public schools and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1980 with a business degree. His major areas of study were Real Estate/Finance. During his adolescence Jeffry became involved in botany and held several jobs in the field including, interior plant maintenance, exterior grounds maintenance, custom design and installations of high-end residential landscapes. After college Jeffry pursued a career in Commercial Real Estate Development, Asset management and Construction and continues in that field today as a principal in charge of development activities with Newport National Corporation. Jeffry’s hobbies to name a few include physical conditioning, research, cycling, barefoot water-skiing, snow skiing, motorcycles, shifter karts, exotic cars, design, gardening, plant collecting and propagation. Jeffry maintains a two-acre garden “Cuesta Linda” in Vista, California, which is home to several thousand species of palms, cycads, ferns, bamboo, succulents, bromeliads, cacti and assorted tropical vegetation. Jeffry also enjoys spending time with his wife, Christine and their two boys, Mason and Dalton. Other involvement’s include membership in several plant societies, Board of Director and Officer positions in three commercial Owners Associations, the ownership of a commercial nursery and the restoration of the family’s historical home. Jeffry is hard working, persistent, determined, and extremely detailed oriented. He believes in living life to it’s fullest and strives for excellence in all matters of his life.

  • Tom Jackson

    Treasurer

    jacksoT@sutterhealth.org

    California, USA

    Tom has been an International Palm Society member for more than 20 years and has attended almost all biennials in that time. A native of Wisconsin, his first exposure to palms was in the conservatories of the Midwest. Visits to family and botanic gardens in Southern California got him hooked on palms. While in Medical school, an externship in a small hospital on the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua was his first exposure to the tropics. Tom moved to San Francisco to continue his education in a more palm friendly climate. While pursuing a career in hospital based pathology and blood banking, Tom and his wife, Kathleen Grant (an MD oncologist), purchased a home in Marin County and started their palm garden. A colleague, Dr. Herb Weber, introduced us to the IPS. Years have passed and the garden has matured. Besides palms it also features succulents, bamboos, ferns and rhododendrons. Tom writes “We have hosted many events including the Garden Conservancy, the American Rhododendron Society, the Northern California Chapter of the IPS and an IPS board meeting. We continue our avid interest in palms and travel to palm habitats. Our most recent trip was a visit to the forests of Borneo this April. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the IPS and look forward to working with the other board members to advance the goals of the IPS and its members."

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California

  • Larry Noblick, Ph.D.

    Administrative Secretary

    larryn@montgomerybotanical.org

    Florida, USA

    Larry Noblick was born in Ohio and has a B.S. in Biological Conservation (Wildlife Management), a B.S. in Education, and an M.S. in Botany from Ohio State University. He first became interested in palms while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil (1978-80). He founded an herbarium at the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana (HUEFS) in Bahia, Brazil, and later returned and spent four more years developing it and continuing his studies on the palms of the Atlantic Forest Region. He came back to the U.S. in 1986 and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991. He then went on to complete a post-doc at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida and has worked at Montgomery Botanical Center, Miami, Florida since 1994 as their palm specialist, collections manager, and palm biologist. He has been a member of the IPS since 1987. In 2004, he was nominated as a director and became the administrative secretary in 2006.

  • John Dransfield, Ph.D.

    Editor

    J.Dransfield@kew.org

    Surrey, United Kingdom

    John Dransfield was born in Liverpool, U.K., in 1945. He obtained his bachelor degree in botany at Cambridge University in 1967 and went on to do his Ph.D. at the same university, researching the two Malayan palm genera Johannesteijsmannia and Eugeissona. His first job was in Indonesia on a British aid project, attached to the Bogor Botanical Gardens and Herbarium. In 1975 he joined the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, where he was the head of palm research until his retirement in 2005. He continues to do research at Kew as an Honorary Research Fellow. John has been a member of the IPS since 1969. In 1981, he began collaboration with Natalie Uhl towards the completion of Genera Palmarum, published in 1987.He has just completed the second edition of the work, together with co-authors Natalie Uhl, Conny Asmussen, William J. Baker, Madeline Harley and Carl Lewis. From 1980 through today, John has been co-editor of Palms (formerly Principes). He is author or co-author of several books on palms, including Palms of Madagascar. He now lives in southeast Wales.

    Affiliated Organizations: Fous de Palmiers

  • Scott Zona, Ph.D.

    Editor

    zonas@fiu.edu

    Florida, USA

    Scott Zona holds a B.S. in horticulture and an M.S. in botany from the University of Florida. His Ph.D. in botany is from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Claremont Graduate University, California. Scott grew up among pines and palms of South Florida.  He has explored for plants in Florida, California, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, the Pacific islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea and Madagascar. His interests are in the diversity and natural history of tropical plants, especially palms, salvias and bryophytes.  He has over 160 publications, both scientific and popular, on palms and other tropical plants.  Scott is co-editor of the International Palm Society’s quarterly journal, PALMS.  He gardens in North Carolina, where, ironically, his favorite palm, Jubaea chilensis, will not grow.

    Affiliated Organizations: South Florida Palm Society

  • Len Geiger

    Board Member

    lgeiger@hotmail.com

    California, USA

    After getting a BS in BioScience from Montana State, Len Geiger was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps which ended up bringing him to his current home of San Diego. His interest in palms started soon after buying a house on a 1 acre lot in Vista. Looking to create a garden that didn't look like every other garden on the block, Len found PalmTalk and the bug took hold soon after. As the founder of WebIntellects, Inc. and The Be Different Company, Len joined the IPS BODs to bring his almost 20 years of online experience to the IPS. When not in his garden, Len can be found traveling, biking, hiking or spending time with his two children.

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California

  • Jill Menzel

    Board Member

    gilmenia@hotmail.com

    Miami, Florida, USA

  • Norman Bezona

    Board Member

    bezona@hawaii.edu

    Hawaii, USA

    Norman Bezona has an undergraduate bachelor degree at U of Hawaii and U of Arizona in tropical agriculture. Norm earned a graduate degree from the University of Florida while working as an Agriculture Extension Agent in Palm Beach Co. Norm moved back to Hawaii 1968 to work for C Brewer Sugar Co and later became an Agriculture Extension Agent with the University of Hawaii. Norman retired in 2002 and developed Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. He has 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Norman has been an IPS member in 1961!

  • David Tanswell

    Board Member

    david.tanswell@hotmail.com

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia



    Affiliated Organizations: Palm & Cycad Society of Australia & Brisbane Palm & Cycad Society

  • Robert Blenker

    Board Member

    robert.blenker@gmail.com

    Palmetto, Florida, USA

    Mr. Blenker brings decades of overseas grassroots development and non-profit experience as well as private sector skills. Since 2000, he has worked as a renewable energy executive, bringing clean energy to markets around the world. His previous experience includes nearly 14 years as senior international staff for the US Peace Corps, as well as overseas stints as a journalist. He has lived in nine countries, worked in 23, and visited more than 100. Blenker's interests in palms stems from their importance as "charismatic key indicator species" for threatened habitats around the world. Some of the most interesting species come from some of the most diverse and fragile micro-habitats and serve as reminders that our world is varied and perishable and that we must be leaders in preserving its rich diversity. His involvement with the IPS dates to before his first biennial in Rio in 2010. Since then, he has participated in the biennials in Thailand/Vietnam, Miami/Cuba, and a mid-term in Madagascar. In addition, he is an active member of the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society. Born in Wisconsin, and raised in the mid-West, he call the west coast of Florida home, although he divides his time between Florida, Grenada, Jamaica, and Latin America. Mr. Blenker is past chair and continues as a director of the Caribbean Student Environmental Alliance. He speaks English, Spanish, and Portuguese. He holds a BS in Wildlife Management/Natural Resources Administration from The Ohio State University where he won the Konrad Lorenz Award for outstanding ethological studies. He also holds an MAIA in International Administration and Development Economics from Ohio University.

  • Andy Hurwitz

    Board Member

    ashcvs@yahoo.com

    Santa Monica, California, USA

    I am palm enthusiast living by the beach in Santa Monica California. Raised in the Midwest I was fortunate to have a beloved grandmother in Miami, and we were frequent visitors to the Fairchild tropical garden. This began  my unbridled affection for tropical horticulture. As a lifelong environmentalist I have been passionate about the preservation of tropical forests. I am equally interested in the preservation of our society and for that reason I wish to dedicate more time and energy to its continued viability.

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California

  • Gregg Hamann

    Board Member

    gregg@hamannco.com

    San Diego, California, USA

    Gregg Hamann was born in San Diego, California in 1957 and has lived virtually his entire life in El Cajon, just a few miles east of San Diego.  He went off to college on a full music scholarship (oboe) and played professionally in the Los Angeles area for a couple of years before switching his major to business and returning home.  He graduated with a B.S. in Accounting in 1978 and joined the family business, Hamann Construction right out of college. He has spent the last forty years as an Industrial and Commercial Real Estate Contractor and Developer in Southern California, specializing in green building.  His zero-carbon footprint, concrete house in Julian called "StoneHaven," won the 2015 ACI Award for Excellence in Construction. Gregg has also been the founder and/or part Owner of a number of other businesses including an aluminum extrusion plant, a surgical glove manufacturing plant and various food related businesses. He has numerous business interests in Mexico and East Asia as well. With a deep love of the natural world since childhood, Gregg is an internationally known expert in Malacology (mollusks) and has been invited on scientific expeditions for his expertise.  Gregg has several seashells discovered by and/or named after him (Conus hamanni, Vokesimurex hamanni and Conus cerutti to name a few).  He also participated in a botanical expedition with Montgomery Botanical Center and has a cycad from Panama named after him (Zamia hamanni). Gregg has been a member of the International Palm Society since 1990 and his 1.5 acre garden in El Cajon boasts around 600 species of palms and cycads from all around the world. His interests include music (oboe, English Horn, piano and harp), scuba diving, underwater photography, hiking (with an emphasis on native plants) and travel.  He spent twenty-two years as a lay pastor in a Presbyterian Church North Park, CA

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California

  • R. Haresh

    Board Member

    r.haresh@tvs.in

    India

    Haresh lives in Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, and has been studying and growing palms for over 30 years. Palms are the integral part of his plant hobby that also includes tropical flowering trees, succulents and orchids. As a business executive, his work provides extensive travel opportunities to visit gardens and growers in the US, Europe and in many parts of Asia. He brings his business management and international exposure to the society. Haresh is currently involved in developing two gardens near Madurai. He hopes to take more time off in the coming years to visit threatened habitats and to study the palm populations in his part of the world.

  • Andrew Street

    Board Member

    Florida, USA

    Andrew Street is a husband and father to two young boys-all of which are native to south Florida. He is a passionate palm nut who happens to have his dream job of being an assistant palm curator at the one and only Montgomery Botanical Center. He also has a rare and extensive collection of, you guessed it, Palms. Lastly, Andrew is a nature lover with a soft spot for reptiles and amphibians-they like palms too.

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California & South Florida Palm Society

  • Leland Lai

    Board Member

    lelandlai@aquafauna.com

    California, USA

    Leland, a resident of Topanga, California, is former Vice President of the International Palm Society and a past President of the Palm Society of Southern California. Leland also heads up the Biennial Committee for the IPS. Born and raised in Hawaii, his love for tropical flora and fauna has captivated his work and outside interests with more than a passion. Leland has built his career assisting in the development of sustainable aquaculture: producing and distributing biological and artificial larval and maturation diets, designing hatchery modules for seed stocks, and providing bio-technology in the form of aquatic genetics for selective breeding.

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California

  • Michael Merritt

    Board Member

    merritt4154@gmail.com

    Hawaii, USA

    Mike Merritt is the son of a career Air Force officer and spent a childhood moving around a lot. A major early interest was growing plants, and his non-plant family watched in tolerant bewilderment as he planted rows of flowers in various backyards. His adult work was not related to plants, however, and culminated with a 25-year career with the U. S. Geological Survey as a Research Hydrologist working at various locations in Florida. While in Miami in 1980, a USGS colleague encouraged Mike to join the International Palm Society, and he began buying plants at the palm sales at Fairchild Tropical Garden. After relocating to central Florida in 1995, his interest in palms was greatly enhanced after a friend in the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society convinced him that he could grow palms from seeds. After several years, his greenhouses were packed with tropical palms that had no hope of surviving planting out in central Florida. This problem was resolved after he bought eight acres of rocky soils land on the Big Island of Hawaii. His shadehouses are again packed as he gradually clears and plants his new property. While in central Florida, Mike served as Treasurer for the Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society and wrote many articles for the chapter’s journal, The Palmateer. He now serves as Treasurer for the International Palm Society and for the Hawaii Island Palm Society.

    Affiliated Organizations: Hawaii Island Palm Society

  • Romeo Montalvo

    Board Member

    rfmlrm@aol.com

    Texas, USA

    Dr. Romeo F Montalvo Jr was born in Laredo, Texas, raised in Hebbronville, Texas, and resides in Brownsville, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology and Minor in Chemistry from St Edward's University in Austin, Texas. He attended medical school at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico and is a practicing pediatrician. Palms are in his blood, he is a member of the International Palm Society, Palm Society of Southern California, Palm Society of South Texas, and Texas Rare Fruit Growers. He belongs to the Cameron County Master Gardener in South Texas. Romeo and his wife, Linda, have hosted the Palm Society of South Texas meeting yearly for over 10 years. They have a very extensive array of palms, cycads, and tropical fruit trees in their property. Romeo is also an avid and passionate collector of Latin American Art and enjoys cooking.

  • Lazaro Priegues

    Board Member

    prieguesl@bellsouth.net

    Florida, USA

    I am Lazaro Priegues. I live in Miami, and have been practicing medicine since 1990. I have been a member of the IPS since 1990 as well as of the South Florida Chapter of the IPS. I attend many meetings of the South Florida Chapter and have been attending the biennials since 1990. Over the years that I have lived in Coral Gables, FL and then Miami, I have planted many palms in my gardens, as well as community plantings. However, I am more notorious for guerrilla gardening of palm trees - especially from the Caribbean - around my neighborhood swales and for getting friends and neighbors to join the IPS and educate them about the importance of palms in the neighborhood and the world. I have also been a loyal member of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (through the Kampong in Miami), and Montgomery Botanical Center. During my many attendances at the IPS biennials, I have served as informal translator from English into Spanish (Costa Rica and Dominican Republic) as well as English into French (New Caledonia). I believe I can be a complement to the excellent board of the IPS.

    Affiliated Organizations: South Florida Palm Society

  • Mike Smukall

    Board Member

    MBPalms@hotmail.com

    Florida, USA

    Mike was born and raised in Central Florida. He has been interested in palms since he was a child mapping out his future nursery in high school math class. After receiving his Biology degree from the University of Central Florida, he spent six years working as an aquatic biologist while building his nursery, MB Palms. He left his job to run his nursery full-time in 2013. Mike has been a member of the IPS for over eight years and has attended many of the biennials. His favorite was the Amazon River pre-tour in Brazil in 2010. In addition to IPS trips, Mike enjoys traveling across the tropics with his wife, Becky, to observe and collect rare palms and cycads. Their most recent trip was to Columbia in 2015 to find the newly described American palm sabinaria magnifica. When Mike is not at his nursery, you can find him in the woods hunting or on the Space Coast as long as the surf report is good.

  • Grant Stephenson

    Board Member

    grant@hciglobal.com

    Texas, USA

    At age 3, Grant Stephenson began helping his grandmother tend her garden. Little did she know, she ignited in Grant a passion for plants that would one day lead him to a life in horticulture. Grant worked for several nurseries at the start of his career, but it wasn't until the early 1980's that he met Joe Montgomery, an IPS member from Austin, TX who introduced him to the world of palms--especially cold hardy species. Joe became a close friend and mentor, and he encouraged Grant to pursue his growing passion for palms and other cold-hardy yet tropical-looking plants. In the mid 1980's Grant joined the IPS and in 1993, with a vision of assembling one of the largest collections of cold hardy species of palms, Grant started Horticultural Consultants, Inc (HCI), a wholesale nursery focused on sale and distribution of specimen palms, bamboo and cycads worldwide. He designed and patented the Oasis Palm Tree Anchoring System, along with the Oasis Palm Cart, which can be used to move large specimens weighing up to 4500 lbs. by hand. Zoos, botanical gardens, arboreta, and architects alike frequently rely on Grant as a consultant and for his ability to procure superior specimens and rare and coveted species. Grant's involvement with the IPS began in the mid 1990's when he became a commercial and lifetime member. He brought in rare, hard-to-find palms for local Texas chapters and sponsored lectures by Paul Craft, Alan Meerow, and Larry Noblick to educate and excite people about the wonders of palms. Grant also passionately teaches others about these elegant, regal trees, and he continues to expand the available palette of hardy palms and tropical-looking plants with new varieties. Grant resides in Sugarland, Texas with his two children Audrey and Derek. He is honored to be elected to the board of directors and looks forward to advancing the efforts of the IPS.

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of South Texas

  • Michael Valentine

    Board Member

    michael@valentine.org

    Texas, USA

    Michael received a BS in Business Technology from the University of Houston, Houston, Texas in December 1981 concentrating in Distribution, a Juris Doctor from the University of Houston in May 1986 concentrating in Taxation, and a MBA from Rice University, Houston, Texas in May 1999, concentrating in Finance and Entrepreneurship. Michael has been a tax attorney for 30 years and represents clients before the IRS. He also owns five H & R Blocks in Colorado preparing over 7000 tax returns annually. Michael is a real estate investor in Texas with rental properties. He is active in his local community of Seabrook Texas. Michael is an accomplished whitewater rafter and snow skier and loves to read almost anything.

  • Susan Hubbell

    Board Member

    sushubbell@aol.com

    Puerto Rico, USA

    Susan, originally from Connecticut, earned a BA in interior design from Pratt Institute. She came to Puerto Rico over 30 years ago as an international staff member with Citibank where she managed the branch bank and major building design and construction department. Later she moved into the bank’s financial area specializing as a trader of tax exempt CDs and marketing of banking products and account officer to local and international corporate clients. Her last position before retirement was as branch manager of the Spanish bank, Banco Central Hispano on the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. She and her husband, Pedro Rodriguez, have a collection of over 50 palm species at their country home on Culebra. They have traveled extensively with the IPS and on their own in Europe, South America, in the USA as well as in the Caribbean via their sailboat and their private plane. Besides gardening, Susan’s other interests include gourmet cooking, abstract acrylic painting and mosaics. Susan’s principle residence is in San Juan, PR. She also has a home north of Orlando, FL so she is available to travel from either location to attend IPS board meetings. As a member of the IPS board Susan is hoping to increase IPS membership from the Caribbean area.

  • Don Martin

    Board Member

  • Horace O. Hobbs. Jr.

    Board Member

    horacehobbsjr@gmail.com

    Texas, USA

    Horace Hobbs is an energy industry consultant who focuses on downstream asset transactions and finance. He is a chemical engineer by training and has spent most of his career in strategic planning, and merger, acquisition and divestiture consulting for oil companies. His association with the International Palm Society has been driven primarily by a desire to see the IPS successful in endeavors surrounding conservation, research, and dissemination of practical information for the hobbyist. He has served on the IPS board of directors as Vice President (1996-2000) and as President (2000-04). He also served as the Society's Corresponding Secretary (2008-2012). He had previously served his local chapter in the Houston area of Texas as President for ten years.

  • Julie Cleaver Malzoni

    Board Member

    cleaver.julie@gmail.com

    Brazil

    Julie Cleaver Malzoni is from Brazil, and has been an IPS member since 2002. She was introduced to the wonderful world of palms by her late father-in-law Roberto Malzoni, an enthusiastic planter of Corypha umbraculifera. She holds degrees in Business Administration, including an MBA. A few years ago, she decided to branch her knowledge into botany, and obtained a Foundation degree in Arboriculture. Julie currently works as a freelance translator (Portuguese/English). Her hobbies are gardening, traveling and reading. In later 2012, she participated in the Vietnam Palm Tour following the IPS Thailand Biennial, which was a great opportunity to meet international IPS members. Since then, she has attended Biennials in Miami and Singapore. Julie keeps contact with other Brazilian palm lovers via the Facebook page "Rede Brasileira de Palmeiras", and hopes that as a member of the IPS board she can help increase awareness in Brazil of the society’s work on the study of palms.  

  • Faith Bishock

    Board Member

    faithbishock@yahoo.com

    Florida, USA

    Faith has always been a 'plant' person. She became interested in palms in the late 70's and a confirmed “addict” in the mid 80's. She has lived most of my life in South Florida, spending lots of time at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden. Faith has been growing palms from seed since with her successes and failures being the basis of her palm knowledge.

  • Cindy Adair

    Board Member

    Ssainpr@gmail.com

    Puerto Rico, USA

    Cindy Adair owned and worked at a busy veterinary practice in Virginia Beach, VA, USA until she retired in 2015. She now lives in the mountains of western Puerto Rico on her 15-acre farm (where rain is plentiful and there is no need for air conditioning or heat) to grow her ever-expanding collection of palm trees, orchids and numerous other plant families. Travel is an ongoing passion and she values the international friendships and amazing experiences offered by this society since her first Biennial in Thailand in 2012. She enjoys working towards the goals of the IPS, including promoting research, conservation and education, and she appreciates the opportunity to contribute. She joined the IPS in 2010 in appreciation for the online forum PalmTalk funded by the IPS and she currently chairs the PalmTalk and Endowment committees.

    Affiliated Organizations: Palm Society of Southern California & Palm Beach Palm and Cycad Society

  • Tobias Spanner

    Corresponding Secretary

    toby@palmsociety.org

    Germany

    Tobias Spanner became seriously interested in palm trees in 1987 and joined the International Palm Society soon after. In 2002, Toby was elected to the IPS’s board of directors and currently holds one of the two offices of Vice President. Toby has also been a member of the European Palm Society since its formation and served as editor of the EPS’s journal for several years. Toby is the author of Das Palmen Kulturhandbuch (1992), a handbook for growing palms, and co-author of the 320 page Winterharte Palmen (2007), which focuses on his specialization, cold-hardy palms. Additionally, Toby has published numerous articles in “Principies” (now “Palms”), “The Palm Journal," "Chamaerops" and in various German gardening magazines, and has been featured in multiple television and radio gardening programs and in over 30 magazines in Germany. Toby made his first palm expedition, to China, in 1991, and has since traveled all over the world to destinations such as India, Burma, Pakistan, Mexico, Ecuador and Vietnam in search of rare and little-known palms. Although Toby says his foremost goal on these trips is to see as many palms in their natural habitats as he can, these expeditions also allow him to gather specimens for study as well as collect seeds for cultivation. His most important expedition, taken with Martin Gibbons to The Sudan in 1995, led to the rediscovery of Medemia argun—a palm that was believed to be extinct. The pair have also scientifically described four new species of Trachycarpus and rediscovered several others. Toby is from Munich, Germany, where he lives with his wife, Dr. Lauri Coulombe, and runs a palm seed business, a mail-order plant nursery, and a small publishing company.

  • Fernando Roca (Pacho)

    Board Member

    froca@pucp.pe

    Peru

    Born in Lima, Perú (1955), Fernando Roca holds a doctorate in Social Anthropology (2004) from the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) Paris, France and a Master in Theology (1994) from Centre Sèvres also in Paris, France. He is an ethnobotanist and Catholic priest and a member of the Society of Jesus, a religious order. He found the first population of Parajubaea cocoides in the north of Peru in 2009 Palms (Vol 54 (3) 2010, pp.133-136). After spending 15 years living in the northwest Amazonian rainforest of Peru, Fernando now lives in Lima and teaches at the University. He has been a member of the IPS since 2004. He continues to carry out field research in Peru and write articles and will shortly his thesis on Ethnobotanical traditional knowledge of the Amazonian Aguaruna-Huambisa people: The case of palms and orchids.