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Peter Breslin has been involved in the cactus and succulent hobby since he was 10 years old and his grandmother bought him a grafted Parodia at a garden center. Something about the fuzzy spines and weird green flowers caught his attention and he has been fascinated ever since. During many years as an avid grower and amateur botanist, Breslin had a 26 year career as a high school English and mathematics teacher. In 2014, he decided to begin graduate studies at Arizona State University toward a PhD in Environmental Life Science. His areas of research include plant population biology, conservation biology, species distribution and biogeography and the emerging field of landscape genetics. His dissertation research, supported in part by generous grants from the CSSA, has been focused on the island endemic cacti of the Pacific islands of Baja California.

Graham Charles first started growing cacti and succulents at the age of 12 and joined the National Cactus and Succulent Society in 1962. He qualified as a cactus judge in 1972 and soon after, began to assemble his collection of documented plants. His specific interest has always been South American cacti and he has had many articles about them published in various journals. He is enthusiastic about practical conservation, reducing the demand for field collected plants by growing seedlings from documented seed, and propagating plants with provenance that are already in culture.

Graham has given hundreds of talks at BCSS branch meetings and conventions in Britain as well as at events in mainland Europe, New Zealand and the USA. He has made more than 20 visits to South America to study the plants in their natural habitat. For his contribution to the hobby, the Cactus and Succulent Society of America made Graham a Fellow of their Society in 2005.

Mark A. Dimmitt has a Ph.D. in biology (herpetology) from the University of California at Riverside after earning an M.S. from UCLA and a B.S. from Pomona College. He worked at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum from 1979 to 2011, first as Curator of Botany, and eventually as Director of Natural History (field ecologist). His areas of research included botany and vertebrate biology, and he is the author of more than 50 scientific and popular publications about ecology and horticulture. He is a Fellow of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. His major publication is the plant and ecology chapters of A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert (2000), and is the senior editor of the revised edition (2015). Mark’s other and ongoing career is as a plant breeder. He spent a couple of decades hybridizing Trichocereus (=Echinopsis, cacti), then Tillandsia (bromeliads); he has introduced about 50 cultivars. Since the late 1970s his main focus has been on hybridizing the genus Adenium; ‘Crimson Star’, ‘Evelyn Marie’, and ‘Bouquet’ are among his creations. He is coauthor of the book Adenium: Sculptural Elegance, Floral Extravagance (2008). Mark also collects and grows a number of other weird plants, mostly succulents and epiphytes.

Jane Evans
Born in Tucson, I have been a Sonoran Desert devotee my entire life.

I attended the University of Arizona where I received my BS in Plant Science. This is also where I met my husband to be Gene Joseph.

While in College my interest in Sonoran Desert Native plants as well as cacti and succulents began to develop. Perhaps one of my most memorable college plant moments was when Gene and I traveled to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum to meet Drs Frank and Carol Crosswhite.

Gene and I were members of the U of A Hort club. Feeling that the club should have a cactus collection but as you would imagine no money, it was suggested by our advisor Dr. Lemoyne Hogan, that we go to the Arboretum and ask the Crosswhite’s for plants to start the collection. Meeting the Crosswhite’s was an experience on its own but then they sent us home with my VW bug loaded to the gills with cactus. I remember still to this day riding home with cactus under my feet, all around me and in my lap!

After a year out of College working for the University Extension Service, I launched myself into self-employment on the corner of Stone and Blacklidge where I have worked for the last 38 years.

When I purchased the property in 1978 there was a flower shop and 2 greenhouses. For the next 12 years I ran the flower shop to pay the mortgage, always with my eye on the greenhouses and a way out of the flower business.

In 1986 Gene needed a place to start his nursery business and I had the perfect piece of property. The nursery, Plants for the Southwest, was born and the 2 greenhouses turned into 8! In 1987 we were able to purchase the Lithops collection of Ed Storms  from his recently widowed wife Ruth and Living Stones Nursery was started.

In 1988 Gene and I married and you could say I came with a dowry:)

Finally in 1990 I was able to sell my flower shop accounts and move outside to the nursery. My working dream finally came to fruition.

The rest as they say is history or perhaps more correctly herstory!

Chuck Hanson's interest in succulents began 1969 when he became curator of Large Animals at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. In 1978 he founded and ran Arid Lands Greenhouses in Tucson AZ. He has made numerous trips to Africa, Madagascar, Mexico and Asia to find and bring into cultivation new species of succulents, specializing in producing plants grown from seed. In 2007 he sold Arid Lands and founded and ran Orchid Renaissance in Ohio. In 2012 he sold Orchid Renaissance and moved to Ecuador to study the orchids, cacti and succulents of Ecuador. He maintained a large collection of succulents and orchids in Columbus, Nebraska.

Now retired in Sonoita, AZ, Chuck and his wife Karen have a small greenhouse for our collection of cacti, succulents and arid-adapted orchids.

Joël Lodé is a naturalist adventurer originally from Nantes, France, the home of Jules Verne. Perhaps inspired by Jules Verne’s adventures, he has traveled extensively around the world on many adventures, including an around-the-world bicycle trip that started in 1975. This led to his first encounter with a cactus in Death Valley, an unpleasant encounter due to a flat tire! He publishes the quarterly Journal “International Cactus Adventures” and manages the website Cactus-Adventures.com. Recently, he has written several books including “Succulent Plants of the Canary Islands” and "Succulent Plants of Socotra, A Cactus Adventures Handbook".

Marlon Machado was born in Salvador, Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, and at an early age he developed a keen interest in plants. He began to collect cacti when he was fifteen, and in time his curiosity about these plants led him to start to study cacti in more detail, specially the cacti native to northeastern Brazil. He has published articles in several journals devoted to cacti and succulents, and he has also published a book about the genus Uebelmannia together with Australian Rudolf Schulz, and more recently a book on the cacti of the semiarid region of Brazil. His passion for cacti and plants in general induced him to study botany, in which he got a master's degree in January 2005 at the State University of Feira de Santana, Bahia, with a thesis on the genetic and morphologic variability of Discocactus species.

Marlon has also worked for three years (2005-2007) at the Institute for Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Switzerland, conducting a study of the relationships of species within the genus Parodia (Notocactus). In October 2014 he got a Ph.D. in Botany at the State University of Feira de Santana, Bahia, with a thesis on systematics and biogeography of Spondias (Anacardiaceae), a group of fruit trees that occur in the semiarid regions of northeastern Brazil, where he investigated hybridization processes. Currently he is working on a cactus and succulent nursery in northern Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Wendell S. Minnich or Woody, as he is commonly known, grew up in the Mojave Desert and has had an attraction to desert plants and animals since the early 1950’s. He has been involved with the cactus and succulent world as a grower, field explorer, club and organization leader, writer, photographer, lecturer and presenter.

Having been a speaker all over the world, Woody is most often associated with giving presentations on his field work from the places he has traveled, such as:  Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, Socotra, South Africa, the United States and Yemen. He has also been recognized for his having operated the nursery Cactus Data Plants since 1975. Woody’s show quality plants are often considered the standard for staging and horticultural achievement. His favorite genera include: Adenium, Astrophytum, Ariocarpus, Copiapoa, Cyphostemma, Fouquieria, Gymnocalycium, Lithops, Mammillaria, Melocactus, Pachypodium, Turbinicarpus and Pachycauls in general.

Woody and his wife, Kathy, now live in New Mexico between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. He is a retired secondary school teacher of 32 years and he taught Graphics, Art and Architecture. In the cactus and succulent hobby, Woody is recognized for his high energy and creative spirit. He is an honorary life member of nine C&S societies and as an educator, he has become an important part of our hobby. He has many experiences to share and numerous of photos to show

Ernesto Sandoval has been wondering and seeking questions to why plants grow and look the way that they do from a very early age. Now he explains and interprets the world of plants to a people of avariety of ages and experiences from K-12 to professionals and Master Gardeners. He regularly lectures to a variety of western Garden Clubs throughout the year and particularly to Succulent Clubs throughout California and adjoining states. Succulents and desert plants are his particular passion within his general passion for plants. He describes himself as a "Jose of All Plants, Master of None." Ernesto thoroughly enjoys helping others, and gardeners in particular, to understand why and how plants do what they do. He was doing roadside identification from a very young age and when he was about 13 he asked his dad why one tree was pruned a particular way and another tree another way. His dad answered bluntly "because that's the way you do it.” Since then he's been learning and teaching himself the answers to those and many other questions about the biology of plants by getting a degree at UC Davis in Botany. Because of his interest, he worked his way from student weeder/waterer to Director over the last 25 years at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory. He's long left the "mow blow and go" landscape gardening world and has immersed himself in the world of polyculture and biodiversity by growing several thousand types of plants at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory, many of them succulents. Several of his favorite garden projects involved converting lawns and or water loving landscapes to drought tolerant and diversity filled gardens! He likes to promote plant liberation by encouraging gardeners of all sorts to grow more plants in the ground when possible.

Prof. Gideon F. Smith, PhD, completed a B.Sc. degree at the University of Port Elizabeth (now the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), before moving to the University of Pretoria, where he read for BSc (Hons.) and PhD degrees in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. He started his career as a pharmaceutical chemist at the South African Bureau of Standards, but later took up an appointment as lecturer in plant and soil sciences at the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus). In the early 1990s he joined the then National Botanical Institute in Pretoria, later the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), where he headed up biodiversity and biosystematics research teams based in Durban, Cape Town, and Pretoria. From 1996 to 2014 he held the John P.H. Acocks Professorial chair in the University of Pretoria. He currently holds positions as research associate at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, one of the oldest universities in the world, as well as a Professorship at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. As a senior manager in SANBI, Prof. Smith previously acted as Chief Executive Officer of SANBI and, in addition to his other duties, has held office as the Institute’s Chief Financial Officer. He recently retired from the Institute.

Apart from having held senior executive positions for over 25 years, Prof. Smith is South Africa’s most prolific author on, especially, succulent plants. He has produced over 460 peer-reviewed papers and chapters in books, 160 semi-scientific papers, and more than 220 popular and other papers. He also wrote or co-wrote 47 books in the past 20 years. He is a popular speaker and has presented more than 250 lectures at international and national congresses and meetings, many on invitation. He has also generated tens of millions of rands in external funds to supplement grant allocations for the Institute’s research initiatives.

Prof. Smith is active in numerous international research thrusts, committees, and organisations, several of which he has served as President or Chairperson. He has worked actively in Africa, particularly the southern Africa subregion, and projects initiated include the African Plant Checklist and Database, the Angolan plant diversity survey, and he wrote the founding document of the multi-million dollar Global Plants Initiative.

Marcia Tatroe writes the monthly "Mountain Garden Checklist" for Sunset Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Colorado Gardener and other gardening publications. Her photography and gardens have been featured in numerous books, magazines and nationally televised gardening shows. She lectures throughout the West focusing on garden design, rock gardening, xeriscape, and native plants. In her most recent book, Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West, she advocates using drought-tolerant and native plants and indigenous materials to create a gardening aesthetic unique to this region. Her garden was awarded Habitat Hero status by the Audubon Rockies in 2015 as an outstanding urban wildscape.

Dr. Rob Wallace is a botanist and biology professor at Iowa State University, where he teaches courses in plant systematics and taxonomy, biological evolution, economic botany, and land plant phylogeny. He has been raising and studying cacti and other succulent plants for nearly 50 years (since the age of 9) and has done botanical field research in desert areas of the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and South Africa. In the laboratory, he uses molecular (DNA) methods to study phylogenetic relationships in succulent plant groups, including the Cactaceae, Aizoaceae (mesembs), Portulacaceae, Didiereaceae, Haworthia, and others. He has given botanical research presentations at regional, national, and international meetings, as well as serving as a speaker at a range of different cactus and succulent society conferences. Wallace is a Past-President of the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study (IOS) and is one of the first botanists to apply DNA methods to the study of cactus and succulent evolution and systematics. Aside from his academic pursuits of teaching and research, he is an accomplished and award-winning wood artist, producing artistic wooden bowls, vessels, and hollow forms on a wood lathe which are exhibited and sold at various art galleries and museums. He has served on the national Board of Directors of the American Association of Woodturners, and is a frequent demonstrator and teacher of woodturning at regional and national symposia. Other interests include gardening, amateur (ham) radio, and homebrewing beer.

Dr. Robert H. Webb has worked on long-term changes in natural ecosystems of the southwestern United States and Baja California since 1976. He has degrees in engineering (B.S., University of Redlands, 1978), environmental earth sciences (M.S., Stanford University, 1980), and geosciences (Ph.D, University of Arizona, 1985). Since 1985, he has been a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Tucson and an adjunct faculty member of the School of Natural Resources and the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona. In addition to his research on long-term change in desert regions, he has collected succulent plants and cacti for 35 years, owns Arid Lands Greenhouses in Tucson, Arizona, and has described three new species of succulent plants. Webb as authored or edited 14 books and about 225 scientific publications. My preferred subjects (among many possible) are: "New Discoveries Within the Genus Sansevieria: Taking Steps towards a Revision of the Genus" with Andy Baldwin and Len Newton, and possibly "The Genus Adenium in the Wild: A Quest Fulfilled" Others might include biogeography of succulent plants in Baja California, revision of the genus Agave in Baja California, and other talks related to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

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