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Dirk Bellstedt
Dirk Bellstedt has a keen interest in the South African flora, and lives in an area which falls within the "fynbos" biome, which has an incredibly high species density.  Plants of the forest floor in this area include Streptocarpus, Plectranthus and Impatiens.   Dirk maintains a large home garden with mainly indigenous plants, including a large collection  of Streptocarpus and some Saintpaulias.  By day, Dirk is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Stellenbosh, and has a doctoral degree in Agriculture.  He has a particular interest in immunology in plants (and also Ostriches), and has been doing work on the molecular systematics of African orchids.  He intends to extend this latter work to Streptocarpus and Saintpaulia.
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John Boggan
John Boggan has been a member of The Gesneriad Society since 1985 and has been President of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society.  He has written extensively for The Gloxinian/Gesneriads and for CrossWords, and has a strong personal interest in hybridizing.  His current  hybridizing interests focus on Chirita and Kohleria.  John is a Research Assistant in the Botany Department of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  He holds an undergraduate degree in entomology, and an M.S. in Systematic Botany, both from Cornell University.  His master's research was on the genus Sinningia and its relatives, and he has a continuing interest in morphology and genus-level relationships within the Gesneriaceae. 
Gustav Ciamaga was a founding member of the Toronto Gesneriad Society.  His interests have ranged from the miniature Sinningias to a variety of smaller-growing orchids, and he has always documented his plants with excellent photography.  Gustav is retired from his positions as Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Music, at the University of Toronto.
Alain Chautems is a curator at the Conservatoire et Jardin Botanique de la Ville de Geneve (the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva).  His research on Nematanthus led to both a taxonomic revision of that genus and a Ph.D. in 1985.   Since that time he has worked with several other gesneriad genera, including Codonanthe, Paliavana, Sinningia, Vanhouttea, and others.  He has studied at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and frequently visits Brazil to study and collect Gesneriads.

Alain's current research interests are focused on the molecular phylogeny and the evolution of pollination in Sinningia.  His recent publications in this area have clarified a number of issues in the area.

Rick Dunn has had a long-standing interest in the Gesneriads, and has grown them, and collected them in the American tropics, for many years.  Rick has been President of Gesneriad Saintpaulia International and editor of GSI's journal for some time, and has worked closely with the Smithsonian Institution in the documentation of plants and plant materials.
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Maryjane Evans
Maryjane Evans was responsible for making the seed fund of the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society one  of the wonders of the world.  Seed of hundreds of species has been made available as a result of her work.  The seed fund is an indispensable resource for those who work with the gesneriads.  Maryjane was also an excellent grower who maintained a large collection, including many of the rarer and more exotic members of the family.  Maryjane passed away in 2002, and is deeply missed by the Gesneriad community.
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Jeanne Katzenstein
Jeanne Katzenstein is the long time editor of The Gloxinian, the magazine of the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society, which are now known respectively as Gesneriads and The Gesneriad Society.
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Ingrid Lindskog

Ingrid Lindskog remembers being interested in flowers and plants since she moved to the countryside near Stockholm, Sweden, at the age of three.  She has studied languages at University (Latin, English, German, French, Russian, Japanese), but her main interests were botany and other biology, literature and Chinese philosophy.  She has published poetry, lived in the U.S. and England, traveled in China, translated a Chinese novel and written a Chinese cookbook. 

Ingrid has always grown plants, and when she discovered that Saintpaulias survived and thrived when others didn't, built up a small collection.   She discovered books on African Violets, as they were next to the books on China in the library.  She founded the Swedish Saintpaulia Society in 1985, and retired as editor of the newsletter when the society reached a membership of 1000.  She   then started, and is still editor, of Gesneriasterna, the publication of the Swedish Gesneriad Society, but intends to retire from that role as soon as possible.   She now lives in Ume嬠and is the happy grandmother of two.

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Dale Martens
Dale Martens joined the Grow 'N Study Gesneriad club in California in 1986 after attending their shopping mall show and sale and being impressed by how much fun the members were having. As a speech pathologist working with elderly stroke victims, she brought violets and unusual gesneriads to work, using them for therapy to stimulate language.  She began hybridizing gesneriads in 1990 just to see what was genetically dominant and if something turned out pretty, that was a bonus.   She  has produced some very interesting hybrids, including the intergeneric xPhinastema 'California Dreaming' and a number of Streptocarpus and Smithiantha hybrids.  Dale is now retired and living in the midwest U.S.   She is on the Board of Directors of The Gesneriad Society, and is editor of CrossWords, the newsletter of the Gesneriad Hybridizers' Association.  
Mary Mendum worked in the Tropical Biology section of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland, where she researched Aeschynanthus, initially preparing descriptions and a key to the little-known New Guinea species. The very extensive living collection at Edinburgh is continually being expanded, both by field collection (most recently in the Philippines) and by gifts from other institutions of cuttings and seed of known wild origin. The Garden now grows about one-third of the known species. Mary was also a botanical illustrator (as Mary Bates) and has contributed work to, among others, the 'Flora of Bhutan', published by the RBGE, the New Plantsman (Royal Horticultural Society) and Curtis's Botanical Magazine (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew).  Paintings of Aeschynanthus chrysanthus and A. angustifolius appeared in 'The genus Aeschynanthus, with notes on two unusual species' by P. Woods (Kew Magazine Vol 8[1], 1991, pp.15--23).  Mary died in 2003m and is much missed by her colleagues in the Gesneriad community.
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Ron Myhr
Ron Myhr is the creator of the Gesneriad Reference Web, and has been involved  with gesneriads since before he founded the Toronto Gesneriad Society in the mid-1970s.  He has twice been the co-editor of CrossWords the newsletter of the Gesneriad Hybridizers' Association.  A psychologist by profession, Ron has worked as a therapist, a clinical training coordinator for a graduate psychology program, a human resources manager and (currently) as a consultant in organizational psychology.
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Toshijiro Okuto
Toshijiro Okuto is a horticulturist on the staff of the Hyogo Prefecture Flower Center, a kind of botanical garden in Kakogawa, Japan.  While he was formerly responsible for growing most of the gesneriads there, he is now Deputy Director and has limited his interests to Streptocarpus and Chirita.  Mr. Okuto is one of the individuals most responsible for the recent introduction of a number of new and exciting Chirita cultivars.  
Mauro Peixoto lives in S㯠Paulo, Brazil, and has been in contact with gesneriads since he was a boy, when he inadvertently discovered the "potato" attached to a beautiful red wildflower (it turned out to be Sinningia elatior).  After starting out growing orchids, he became progressively more involved with gesneriads, collecting many Brazilian species, and eventually hybridizing them for his own pleasure.  He has recently begun a small nursery business, and is propagating and selling a variety of gesneriads, as well as other plants.
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Chris Rose
Chris Rose has been growing Streptocarpus since he was given a leaf of S. 'Constant Nymph'in 1984.  He started hybridizing a few years later, and stepped up the intensity of this work in the late nineties. He makes considerable use of species with interesting and novel characteristics, in an attempt to open up new breeding opportunities in the genus. In 2003 he teamed up with the Oaklands Nursery in Leicestershire, England, whose owners are now kindly providing him with the space to grow on more seedlings of more crosses than has been possible at his home in Bristol. Chris is National Election Agent for Green Party of England and Wales, and works to elect candidates to all levels of government, including the European Parliament.
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Larry Skog
Dr. Larry Skog is a recently-retired botanical curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.  He has studied the Gesneriads extensively, and is an authority on several neo-tropical genera.   His recent publications include a taxonomic revision of the genus Kohleria (with Lars Kvist), and he has written extensively on Columnea.
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Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith holds a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Oklahoma, and has been a member of the African Violet Society of America for over 20 years. He has authored numerous articles in the Society's African Violet Magazine, and is the author of the current genetic advice column "In Search of New Violets".

Dr. Smith has conducted active research on the genetics of flower color in Saintpaulia, and on the inheritance of other genetic traits. Most recently, he has been working on the Saintpaulia species, and has discovered more diversity in the species than originally suspected. He is currently completing a book African Violets, the Genus Saintpaulia, which will be published by Timber Press in 1998, and is the author of a chapter on Saintpaulia hybridizing, in a forthcoming book on Plant Breeding edited by Brett and Dorothy Callaway. This book is also being published by Timber Press, and should be released in mid-1998.

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Bob Stewart
Bob and Dee Stewart live in Stowe, Vermont, where they maintain an extensive collection of exotic gesneriads in their greenhouse.  Bob and Dee began growing gesneriads almost 25 years ago, starting on windows, moving to light, then to more elaborate lights, and then to the greenhouse. They grow a wide variety of species, including a lot of epiphytes and cool growers.   Bob and Dee have won many awards for their plants, and lectured on the greenhouse culture of gesneriads at the AGGS 1998 Convention.  They have been members of AGGS (now The Gesneriad Society) for over 25 years.
Katsutomo Tanaka is a horticulturist at the Hyogo Prefecture Flower Center, in Kakogawa, Japan, where he is responsible for the care of the gesneriad collection.  Mr. Tanaka is involved in hybridizing gesneriads, and is particularly interested in Streptocarpus.
Betty Tapping has been involved with African Violets and gesneriads for many years, and was one of the first members of theToronto Gesneriad Society when it was founded in the mid '70s.   She is an accomplished grower, and has won many awards for her plants at African Violet and Gesneriad shows.  Betty has been a member of the AGGS Board of Directors, and was a long-time editor of the Toronto Gesneriad Society Newsletter.
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Ruth Zavitz
Ruth Zavitz is a freelance writer and gardening consultant who lives in southwestern Ontario, Canada.   She is retired from farming, and has been involved  with growing things her entire life.  Although she grows a wide variety of plants, she has always had a particular interest in the Gesneriads, and  has written for GSN, The Gloxinian, and the Toronto Gesneriad Society Newsletter.  Her garden writing and photographs have appeared in national magazines in both the U.S. and Canada.




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