Prof Sir Ghillean Prance was for eleven years Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, until his retirement in 1999. He trained as a plant taxonomist and is an expert on the flora of the Amazon rain forests, having led annual expeditions there over a period of 25 years and collected more than 450 Amazonian plants new to science.
He has devoted much attention to the relationship between plants and humans. To that end, he lived with at least sixteen Indian tribes in the Amazon. A book on his life, entitled A Passion for Plants: From the Rainforests of Brazil to Kew Gardens, was published in 1995. He is currently Scientific Director of the Eden Project in Cornwall, Visiting Professor at Reading University and was McBryde Professor at the US National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii from 2000 to 2002.