Spencer Barrett (ecologist)

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Spencer Barrett
Spencer Barrett (2005).jpg
Barrett in 2005
Spencer Charles Hilton Barrett

(1948-06-07) June 7, 1948 (age 70)[1]
Alma mater
Scientific career
Institutions University of Toronto
Thesis Breeding systems in Eichhornia and Pontederia, tristylous genera of the Pontederiaceae (1977)
Doctoral advisor Herbert George Baker[3][4]
Website labs.eeb.utoronto.ca/BarrettLab/

Spencer Charles Hilton Barrett FRS FRSC (born June 7, 1948)[1] is a Canadian ecologist, formerly a Canada Research Chair at University of Toronto and, in 2010, was named Extraordinary Professor at University of Stellenbosch.[5][6]


Barrett was educated at the University of Reading[1] and the University of California, Berkeley where he was awarded a PhD in 1977[3][7] for research into the breeding systems of the plants Eichhornia and Pontederia supervised by Herbert Baker.[4]

Research and career

Barrett's interests are in evolutionary biology, evolutionary genetics, evolutionary ecology and plant reproduction.[2] His research seeks understanding how flowers evolve and what mechanisms are responsible for mating system transitions in flowering plants.[8] As of 2017 he is the editor of the Proceedings of the Royal Society series B,[9] the flagship scientific journal of the Royal Society.

Barrett is an evolutionary biologist and a worldwide authority on the ecology and genetics of plant reproduction. His work has focused on increasing our understanding of how flowers evolve and the mechanisms responsible for mating system transitions in flowering plants.

Through innovative experiments, amongst his other discoveries, Spencer provided the first experimental evidence for the purging of deleterious genes following inbreeding in plants. He also demonstrated that self-fertilisation owing to large floral displays in plants has a detrimental effect on the male fertility of plants.

Spencer’s research group at the University of Toronto focuses on understanding the mechanisms responsible for the evolution of plant mating strategies, and he has edited several leading books in the field.

Awards and honours

Barrett was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2004.[8] He was awarded the Sewall Wright Award by the American Society of Naturalists in 2008 and was President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution from 2010 to 2011.[8]

He received the Sewall Wright Award from the American Society of Naturalists in 2008 and was President of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution from 2010–2011.[8] In 2014, he received the Flavelle Medal from the Royal Society of Canada.[10]


  1. ^ a b c BARRETT, Prof. Spencer Charles Hilton. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2017 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Spencer Barrett publications indexed by Google Scholar
  3. ^ a b Barrett, Spencer Charles Hilton (1977). Breeding systems in Eichhornia and Pontederia, tristylous genera of the Pontederiaceae. proquest.com (PhD thesis). University of California, Berkeley. OCLC 6180836.
  4. ^ a b "Evolution Tree - Spencer C.H. Barrett Details". Academictree.org. 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  5. ^ "Spencer Barrett". gc.ca. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  6. ^ "Spencer Barrett". utoronto.ca. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  7. ^ Spencer Barrett's Entry at ORCID
  8. ^ a b c d Anon (2014). "Professor Spencer Barrett". royalsociety.org. London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02.One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2016-03-09.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)

  9. ^ Barrett, Spencer C. H. (2017). "Proceedings B 2016: the year in review". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 284 (1846): 20162633. doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.2633. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 5247507. PMID 28053056.
  10. ^ Past Award Winners: The Flavelle Medal
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