About Malcolm McLeod

Dr. Malcolm McLeod was a professor of botany in the Biology Department at Cal Poly from 1979 until his full retirement in 1993 and an active member of the San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (SLOCNPS) from 1973 until he died in 2006.

Dr. McLeod was a charismatic and inspirational chapter leader that served tirelessly on numerous committees and held several offices including president, recording secretary, and rare plant botanist. He was an educator, rare plant advocate, pioneer of native horticulture, photographer, author, and scientist with an uncanny ability to recognize species long believed to have been extirpated. In 2004 his vast contributions were recognized when he became a CNPS Fellow, the highest honor awarded by the Society.

About the Scholarship Fund

As part of Dr. McLeod’s continued memorial, SLOCNPS created the Malcolm McLeod Scholarship fund that is intended to encourage the study of botany by providing financial support to outstanding students in our region. Interested students are required to submit a brief letter that describes their research and how it relates to the overall mission of CNPS, a letter of recommendation, a timeline, and a budget that outlines how the funds will be spent. Awards typically range from 100 to 500 dollars. Award recipients give a presentation about their research at a local chapter meeting.

Helping Local Botany Students

Since its inception, the McLeod Scholarship has been awarded to several local botany students.

  • Jenn Yost received the award in 2008 for her research on local adaptation and speciation in goldfields (Lasthenia spp.) and members of the genus Dudleya. Ms. Yost has since gone on to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Carlos Torres was awarded a McLeod Scholarship in 2010 to conduct an out-planting study in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes ecosystem with two of our County’s most imperiled species, Gambel’s watercress (Nasturtium gambelii) and marsh sandwort (Arenaria paludicola). Carlos has gone on to become the restoration coordinator for the local land conservancy.
  • Kristie Haydu, who was recently elected recording secretary for the chapter, received a McLeod award in 2011 to identify and map plant biodiversity hotspots in San Luis Obispo County with geographic information system (GIS) that can be used to establish long-term conservation strategies and influence planning decisions.
  • Taylor Crow was awarded a scholarship in 2013. He was a second year master’s student at Cal Poly, graduating under the direction of Matt Ritter. Taylor spent his graduate career working on Swanton Ranch because of the wonderful amount of plants and surf breaks. He got his start as a botanist in David Keil’s and Dirk Walter’s plant taxonomy class. Taylor spoke at our chapter meeting in June, 2013.
  • In 2014, the McLeod Scholarship was awarded to Natalie Rossington to study the distribution and ecology of native populations of Layia jonesii and Layia platyglossa in Reservoir Canyon.

Graduate and undergraduate botany students from Cal Poly, Cuesta College, and Allan Hancock College are eligible to apply.

Growing the Fund

SLO-CNPS would like to see the McLeod Scholarship fund continue to grow. Growth of this fund will provide more substantial awards to a larger number of students. Education is expensive and as costs continue to rise, scholarships of this nature are increasingly important for students pursuing higher education. In addition, student research can furnish CNPS with valuable data to inform plant conservation issues and policy.

Students are ultimately the next generation of CNPS and they will continue our mission well into the future. Over the last few years we have received several donations to the Scholarship fund in memory of Dr. McLeod. Please consider making a year-end and tax deductible donation or bequest to the Malcolm McLeod Scholarship fund.

For more information regarding donations please contact Linda Chipping.

Submitted by Matt Ritter and Kristie Haydu