05-Apr-2013 15:29 Age: 4 yrs

In Memoriam Dr Richard Pankhurst

By: Patricia Mergen

On behalf of TDWG we are  very sorry to inform you that Richard John Pankhurst passed away on Tuesday 26 March after fighting oesophageal cancer for many years.

He was a very important contributer and friend of TDWG, as can be judged from his short CV  from the BioCISE directory:

Dr Richard Pankhurst began his career in computing in the computer section at CERN, Geneva in 1963, and moving back to Cambridge to work on Computer-Aided Design in 1966. In 1971 he moved to the Botany School, Cambridge to begin work on his PANKEY programs for identification and key construction. This was continued at the Botany department of the Natural History Museum from 1974 until 1991, where he was for many years curator of the British herbarium, and also worked on the Flora Meso-Americana. "Biological Identification", 1978, was the first textbook on computer methods in identification. A new version of this book was published by C.U.P in 1991. Also published in that year was the Flora of the Outer Hebrides. With over 50 publications of refereed papers and books in the fields of taxonomic computing he has made major contributions to these fields. Dr. Pankhurst has been very active recently in programming and managing botanical databases (Flora Europaea, BSBI database and PANDORA) and systems with images. He was appointed Principal Scientific Officer at the RGB Edinburgh in 1991. Dr. Pankhurst served on various committees of British and international organizations, among others. Botanical Society of the British Isles, Committee for Scotland and Database Committee. Botanical Society of Scotland, Council. Taxonomic Databases Working Group, convener of Descriptors Group. International Organisation for Plant Information, co-convener of Information Systems Committee, Checklist Committee. Dr. Pankhurst was the head of the Department of Taxonomic Computing at RGBE. 

After his official retirement, he compiled a large database of the Rose family. His work on recording the wild flowers of the Outer Hebrides took him frequently to these remote islands on behalf of the Botanical Society of the British Isles. His interest in Taraxacum (dandelions) was acknowledged when a species found only on St. Kilda was named Taraxacum pankhurstianum.

In Richard, not only a very important scientist was lost to our community, but also a very pleasant collaborator and friend .


  Last Modified: 06 February 2017