Galen Gates


Galen believes strongly in community engagement, pragmatic research, education, and public gardens that remain relevant to their constituents. He actively pursued these interests during his 30-year career at the Chicago Botanic Garden. He led the effort to establish the Garden’s long-range Collections Plan outlining the purpose and direction for the institution’s Living Plant, Library, Herbarium and Sculpture Collections. He established a Verification Program methodically verifying living plant collections; securing North American Plant Collections status for spirea, geranium, and oaks. He authored the landmark paper Characteristics of a World-Class Plant Collection – a reference used widely as the guide in developing and evaluating plant collections in the US, Europe, and Asia. Galen is a founding member of four organizations including the Garden’s Plant Exploration Program. He collected and studied plants on 25 trips into 20 countries, ultimately enriching botanical understanding and diversity in the US. Galen identified the need and successfully pursued solutions to abate 6 miles of shoreline erosion and improve water quality – generating unprecedented research and pragmatic techniques to stem erosion in the Upper US. He initiated and programmed three annual conferences, as Adjunct Professor he helped establish an initiative that brought a Master of Landscape Architecture degree to the Chicago area. He has addressed 15 universities (including Northwestern and Harvard).