International Association for Lichenology

Mark R. D. Seaward

Mark R. D. Seaward

Over the last forty years, Professor Mark Seaward has touched the lives and careers of a great number of lichenologists around the world. Mark carried out pioneering studies on lichen ecology of industrially contaminated land. This brought him into contact with a great many botanists and developed his genuine interest in people. Now, he has an enormous circle of correspondents that includes students, amateurs and professional lichenologists. Indeed, Mark does not limit himself to the living, but has researched and written about lichenologists and botanists of the past providing fascinating details and insights. He has also examined their collections in under-studied herbaria, like the one at Oxford University, doing handwriting and other detective work to identify specimens, collectors and locations.

In 1977, Mark Seaward edited ‘Lichen Ecology’, which provided the framework for modern lichen ecology, and he has written or contributed to over 400 articles, research papers, conference proceedings, editorials and book chapters. In the last three years alone, he has had more than 40 contributions. In sharing his research results with others, he has been an outstanding lecturer at many international conferences.

Mark played a major leadership role in the development of the first effective national lichen mapping program, the British Lichen Society Mapping Scheme Data Base, and he has kept it going and growing over the past 30 years providing anyone interested with maps for research papers or popular books such as Frank Dobson’s “Lichens: An Illustrated Guide”. He still spends at least an hour each morning entering new records received from lichenologists into the mapping data base. The result of this huge mapping effort has been a continued enthusiasm for field work in the UK and a well documented basis for investigating new sites and particular lichen taxa. It is hard to imagine how Mark manages all this when there are only 24 hours in a day.

Born and raised in Lincolnshire in England, Mark Seaward migrated progressively northwards in his academic career from Birmingham to Nottingham and finally to Bradford University in Yorkshire where he was awarded his Ph.D and D.Sc. His contributions to lichenology have been recognized by being awarded the Ursula Duncan Medal from the British Lichen Society and an honourary degree from the University of Wroclaw in Poland. The latter rewarded achievements from more than 20 years of research collaboration and Mark’s role in fostering lichenology in that country. Indeed, Mark has been the source of help and support for lichenologists in many other countries, especially those with limited lichenological resources.

Mark recently retired from Bradford University but has been invited to continue there as Honourary Research Professor in Environmental Biology. As the focus of his career changes from lecturing and supervising, to doing unencumbered personal research, it is a fitting moment to recognize Mark Seaward’s tremendous impact on the field of lichenology over the past four decades. Today we celebrate this achievement by awarding him an Acharius medal. He is a friend to many, a most distinguished colleague, and we wish him many more productive years in lichenology.

– David H.S. Richardson