Professor John L Harper CBE FRS (1925 – 2009)

Humanists UK was sorry to hear of the death in March 2009 of John Lander Harper, eminent botanist and ecologist, and Patron of Humanists UK.

John Harper was educated at Rugby School and Magdalen College Oxford, before embarking on an academic career. He worked in the Department of Agriculture, Oxford, and then as Professor of Botany in the University of North Wales. His books include Population Biology of Plants (1977) and Ecology, Individuals, Populations and Communities (1986).

He was a fellow of the Royal Society from 1978 and a member of its Council from 1987–89. He served on many other relevant committees, for example, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and was a trustee of the Natural History Museum from 1990-1997. He also received many honours for his work on ecology and plant population: he won the Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America in 1984, and received the Royal Society’s Darwin award in 1990 for his research, which greatly improved understanding of the adaptation of plants to their environment.

Professor Harper was one of the 43 scientists and philosophers who in March 2002 signed a letter to Tony Blair and relevant Government departments, deploring the teaching of Creationism in schools. He was also one of the signatories to a letter supporting a holiday on Charles’ Darwin’s birthday, published in The Times on February 12, 2003, and also sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.

See also

His Wikipedia entry at