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UC Riverside Botanist to Receive Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence


UC Riverside Botanist to Receive Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence

Jodie Holt, botanical consultant for the blockbuster film “Avatar,” will receive the award at the San Diego Botanic Garden on Sept. 11

(August 20, 2010)

Jodie Holt, a professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, checks out giant flowers of the Dutchman's pipe plant at the San Diego Botanic Garden.  Photo credit: San Diego Botanic Garden.  (More photos below.)Enlarge

Jodie Holt, a professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, checks out giant flowers of the Dutchman's pipe plant at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo credit: San Diego Botanic Garden. (More photos below.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Jodie Holt, a professor of plant physiology at the University of California, Riverside and the botanical consultant for James Cameron’s film Avatar, will receive the Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence “for her life’s work as a distinguished scientist and educator” at a ceremony beginning at 5 p.m., Sept. 11, 2010, at the San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, Calif.

“This award reflects the high regard that the San Diego Botanic Garden holds for botanists, and I am delighted to receive it,” said Holt, who chaired the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences through June 2010.

Holt shaped Sigourney Weaver’s character as a botanist in Avatar and helped create and name plants for the film. Her involvement with the film and her subsequent outreach to the public helped raise awareness of botany and its importance in people’s imagination. At UC Riverside, her lab conducts research in the ecology of weedy and invasive plants in order to contribute ecologically sound weed management practices.

Tickets for the award ceremony – a fundraiser called “Gala in the Garden,” with this year’s theme being “Celebrating Environment and Stewardship” – are $175 per person and may be purchased online at www.sdbgarden.org.

The Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence was established by the San Diego Botanic Garden in 2002. It recognizes exceptional achievement by an individual or group in one or more of the following categories: Education about plants and their roles in the environment; conservation of native plants and wildlife, or other rare and endangered plants; creation or preservation of public places for enjoying the beauty of the natural world; and preservation or re-creation of historically significant plantings and structures.

Last year, PBS television personality Huell Howser won the award that is named for a renowned poinsettia rancher and horticulturalist. It was the efforts of Paul Ecke Jr. (1925-2002) that helped the Ecke family ranch, located in Encinitas, Calif., turn the poinsettia from a field plant to the potted plant that is now a symbol of the Christmas season.

San Diego Botanic Garden members and visitors will have an opportunity on Oct. 31 to listen to Holt speak about her contribution to Avatar.

The blockbuster film is being re-released in select theaters on Aug. 27 with nine additional minutes of never-been-seen-before footage.
Jodie Holt (left), a professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, gets a tour of the San Diego Botanic Garden.  To her left is Julian Duval, president and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden.  Photo credit: Becky Reeb, San Diego Botanic Garden.Enlarge

Jodie Holt (left), a professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, gets a tour of the San Diego Botanic Garden. To her left is Julian Duval, president and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo credit: Becky Reeb, San Diego Botanic Garden.

Jodie Holt (left), a professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, and Julian Duval, president and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden, examine some of the garden's plants.  Photo credit: Becky Reeb, San Diego Botanic Garden.Enlarge

Jodie Holt (left), a professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, and Julian Duval, president and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden, examine some of the garden's plants. Photo credit: Becky Reeb, San Diego Botanic Garden.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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