Weeds expert Dr. Gerry Mulligan, former head of research for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has died. He was 94.
He graduated with a BSc. (Agriculture) from the Macdonald College faculty of McGill University in 1952.
He had a career of more than 60 years in the federal agriculture Department in Ottawa as a scientist, research director and after retirement as an honorary research associate.
He was the sole Canadian invited to present a paper at The Genetics of Colonizing Species, the first symposium organized by The International Union of Biological Sciences. This symposium is now credited with initiating the study of the genetics and evolution of invasive species.
He has published many research papers, books, and has five active websites at http://weedscanada.ca/.
He has determined and published the chromosome numbers for species of most plant families found in Canada and the United States and has named many new plant species from Alaska to California and from British Columbia to Quebec.
He co-founded the Biology of Canadian Weeds series and edited the series for the Canadian Journal of Plant Science for many years.
At age 93, he published his last scientific paper entitled Draba of Canada and Alaska in the June 2021 issue of the Harvard Papers in Botany.
He has been active in national and international associations and was a founding member of several, including the Canadian Botanical Association, the Genetics Society of Canada, the International Organization of Plant Biosystematics, and the Association of Systematic Collections. He served as president of the Canadian Botanical Society and was awarded its highest honour, the George Lawson Medal, in 2006. In 2014 he received the Macdonald College Distinguished Alumni Award.
His life story has been documented in a book, The Real Weed Man, Portrait of Canadian Botanist Gerald A. Mulligan (2014).