Nepalese botanist is awarded RBGE Medal
A rising star in Nepalese botany, Sanjeev Kumar Rai has been awarded the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Medal in recognition of excellence as a young scientist in a developing country.
At a special reception at the Garden, Sir Muir Russell, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at RBGE, presented the RBGE Medal to Mr Rai.
Sanjeev Kumar Rai graduated with an MSc in botany in 2002, working as a researcher at the Nepal Agricultural Research Council before joining the Government of Nepal as a plant scientist in 2004. Mr Rai’s exceptional abilities as a researcher and an inspirational leader were soon recognised, and he rose quickly through the ranks to Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation – a rare occurrence for one so young in Nepal.
He is currently Director General of the Department of Plant Resources (DPR), the national body responsible for plant biodiversity in Nepal, and RBGE’s main partner for the Flora of Nepal programme. DPR runs the National Herbarium and National Botanic Garden, and during Mr Rai’s career he has served as Chief of the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories. He has also worked as Chief of the District Plant Resource Offices in the remote districts of Jumla and Kailali, and served as Head of the Garden for the main government buildings at Singha Durbar.
In his current role Mr Rai is responsible for the technical and administrative supervision of plant science projects, and he has been very successful in securing significant funding from central government to enhance the research capabilities and outreach of DPR. Mr Rai has published more than 20 research articles, authored one book and co-authored five more.
He is a keen fieldworker and skilled photographer, the results of which have been shown in photographic exhibitions and used to illustrate many scientific and popular publications. He has recently completed a PhD study on the ecological modelling of plants in the Himalaya, a joint project between Tribhuvan University, Nepal, and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. Through his leadership Mr Rai has inspired a new generation of botanists in Nepal, mentoring them and empowering them to expand their horizons. He is a rising star in Nepalese botany, and a worthy recipient of the RBGE Medal in recognition of excellence as a young scientist in a developing country.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Medal, instituted in 2010, is awarded from time to time to recognise an outstanding individual contribution in any field related to the work of the RBGE (either by a member of staff or by any other person). The medal, struck in silver, has a Sibbaldia motif on one face and a portrait of Robert Sibbald on the other. Mr Rai is the seventh recipient of the RBGE Medal.
(Image shows L-R, Sir Muir Russell; Dr Mark Watson, Head of Major Floras at RBGE; Sanjeev Kumar Rai and Regius Keeper, Simon Milne)
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