• Plant conservation
  • Climate change
  • Biocultural diversity and conservation
  • International conservation strategies


I am the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Executive Director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, a position I have held since 2014. I am also adjunct associate professor in the Section of Horticulture and a faculty fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

My professional experience is in plant conservation ecology and in understanding the interdependence between biological and human cultural (and language) diversity. It is increasingly evident that impacts to natural systems are leading to serious erosion of human cultural diversity. In fact, 50 percent of languages are considered endangered. Conservation and education programs at botanic gardens should (and increasingly are) raising awareness of these connections.

Previously, I served as director of the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawaiʻi, executive director for research at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and as director of research at The Morton Arboretum.

I am actively engaged with boards of several organizations working to preserve the world’s biocultural diversity, including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s U.S. office, the Center for Plant Conservation, and Terralingua. I am chair of the IUCN National Committee for the U.S. and the North American councilor for the International Association of Botanic Gardens. I have served as president of the American Public Gardens Association and received the association’s Award of Merit.

Christopher’s CV