“Last but by no means least” – indeed, Peter was the first President of the IAL, and its Acting Treasurer, from 1969 to 1975. Further back in time he was another “first” – a founder member of the British Lichen Society in 1958. In that same year, following National Service, Peter began work as a lichenologist at the British Museum (Natural History). Also in that year, he became the first editor of The Lichenologist, continuing into the 1970s, and taking the journal from its humble beginnings to it becoming the leading international professional journal that it is today.
Editing in those days was much more difficult than today – there were fewer referees available and no such luxuries as word processors and desk-top publishers. He gave tremendous help to many authors, with regard to both scientific content, and to English correction, and he often “burnt the midnight oil” retyping manuscripts. Further evidence of Peter’s contribution to lichenology can be seen by turning to the Acknowledgements of hundreds of papers by dozens of authors. I know that many of us here are personally grateful for the help and encouragement that Peter has given so freely.
Many of Peter’s publications are landmarks in the recent history of lichenology. Of his earlier works are his “New checklist of British Lichens” (1965) and his major contribution to Ursula Duncan’s Introduction to British Lichens (1970) – both were a major stimulus to lichen taxonomy and field-studies in NW Europe. Other landmarks include, for example, his paper on cephalodia (with Aino Henssen, 1976), the preliminary prospectus of lichen communities in the British Isles (with David Hawksworth and Francis Rose, 1977), and the monographs on Nephroma (with Joy White, 1987, 1988). Next to come are the publication of his studies on Menegazzia, and the appearance, in November 1992, of the long-awaited Lichen Flora of Great Britain and Ireland, of which Peter has been coeditor and a senior contributor.
Peter is primarily a taxonomist, but his enthusiasm for field-work, and his vast field experience in most parts of the world, have led to his involvement in much wider areas of lichenology, including ecology, phytosociolgy, pollution studies and conservation. He has always been a patient yet effective teacher, not only to the several doctoral students that have come under his wing, but also to the scores of amateurs who have benefited from his knowledge and enthusiasm during his many field courses and workshops at home and abroad.
On behalf of us here today, and of Peter’s many other lichenological friends throughout the world, it is a great pleasure and honor for me to propose the award of the Acharius Medal to Peter James, a Gentleman of Lichenology.
– Brian Coppins