[tdwg] In Memoriam Dr Richard Pankhurst

Mergen Patricia mergen.patricia at gmail.com
Fri Apr 5 17:28:12 CEST 2013

Dear Colleagues,

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

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

<patricia.mergen at africamuseum.be>

Dr. Patricia Mergen (General Secretary of TDWG, on behalf of the Executive

Head of Biodiversity Information and Cybertaxonomy

Royal Museum for Central Africa

Leuvensesteenweg 13

B-3080 Tervuren


+ 32 2 769 5  *626*

patricia.mergen at africamuseum.be
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