Holt to receive Ecke Award from San Diego Botanic Garden

Jodie Holt in the San Diego Botanic Garden


Jodie Holt, a professor of plant physiology at the University of California, Riverside and the botanical consultant for James Cameron’s film Avatar, will receive the Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence “for her life’s work as a distinguished scientist and educator” at a ceremony beginning at 5 p.m., Sept. 11, 2010, at the San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, Calif.

“This award reflects the high regard that the San Diego Botanic Garden holds for botanists, and I am delighted to receive it,” said Holt, who chaired the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences through June 2010.

Holt shaped Sigourney Weaver’s character as a botanist in Avatar and helped create and name plants for the film. Her involvement with the film and her subsequent outreach to the public helped raise awareness of botany and its importance in people’s imagination. At UC Riverside, her lab conducts research in the ecology of weedy and invasive plants in order to contribute ecologically sound weed management practices.

Tickets for the award ceremony – a fundraiser called “Gala in the Garden,” with this year’s theme being “Celebrating Environment and Stewardship” – are $175 per person and may be purchased online at www.sdbgarden.org.

The Paul Ecke Jr. Award of Excellence was established by the San Diego Botanic Garden in 2002. It recognizes exceptional achievement by an individual or group in one or more of the following categories: Education about plants and their roles in the environment; conservation of native plants and wildlife, or other rare and endangered plants; creation or preservation of public places for enjoying the beauty of the natural world; and preservation or re-creation of historically significant plantings and structures.

Last year, PBS television personality Huell Howser won the award, whicht is named for a renowned poinsettia rancher and horticulturalist. It was the efforts of Paul Ecke Jr. (1925-2002) that helped the Ecke family ranch, located in Encinitas, turn the poinsettia from a field plant to the potted plant that is now a symbol of the Christmas season.

San Diego Botanic Garden members and visitors will have an opportunity on Oct. 31 to listen to Holt speak about her contribution to Avatar.

The blockbuster film is being re-released in select theaters on Aug. 27 with 9 additional minutes of never-before-seen footage.


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