Ken Cameron


My primary research interests focus on the systematics, evolution, structure, and conservation of orchids (Orchidaceae) based on studies carried out in the field, herbarium, library, and laboratory. Collaborating with an international group of scientists and students, I continue to use gene sequence data to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of orchids with the ultimate goal of producing a robust and stable system of classification for this diverse and charismatic family. My work has contributed extensively to our knowledge of the anatomy, life history, ecology, physiology, and evolution of Orchidaceae, but I consider myself a specialist, in particular, on the orchid subfamily Vanilloideae. This ancient clade includes the only orchid of agricultural value, Vanilla, and is pivitol to the study of orchid evolution since several taxa are partially or fully mycoheterotrophic and can no longer photosynthesize on their own.

In addition to orchids, I have published studies on the systematics, biogeography, character evolution, and classification of other equally fascinating plant groups such as Smilacaceae, Malpighiaceae, Cactaceae, Droseraceae, and Lentibulariaceae. My fieldwork has taken me from Mexico to Ecuador, from Tasmania to Borneo, and from China to New Caledonia, but some of the most memorable plant collecting trips have taken place right here in the United States. I am passionate about all aspects of plant biology, and eager to share that passion with fellow scientists, students, and the public alike.


Associate Professor of Botany & Director, Wisconsin State Herbarium (WIS)

       Former Director of Molecular Systematics, The New York Botanical Garden (1998-2008)

Ph.D. (1996) Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office: Birge 154
 kmcameron at wisc dot edu