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Biography

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Professor of floriculture and ornamental horticulture, Cornell University.

Laurence Howland MacDaniels received a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1912, where he was a member of the championship football team. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell in 1917, serving as an instructor in botany from 1914 to 1917. From 1917 and 1919 he worked as a member of the Botanical Raw Products Committee of the National Research Council and for the Bureau of Aircraft Production. In 1919 and 1920 he and his wife did relief work with Armenian refugees in Turkey through the American Committee for Relief in the Near East. In the fall of 1920 he returned to Cornell as an assistant professor of pomology and in 1923 was promoted to professor. During his sabbatical leave in 1926-27, he conducted a botanical survey of the fe'i banana as it related to Polynesian migration, in association with the Bishop Museum of Honolulu. In 1940, MacDaniels was appointed head of the Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, a position he held until his retirement in 1956. During World War II, the department, under his leadership, focused on rubber production from American plant species, the use of plant materials for camouflage, and food production through Victory Gardens. From 1943-1945, on leave, he served in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon as director of agricultural extension for the Near East Foundation, and later with the UNRRA. In 1949 he continued his Polynesian work in Caledonia, the New Hebrides, and Canton Island.

After his retirement in 1956, he continued to be involved in international agriculture, serving as visiting professor of horticulture at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos, as adviser for nut crops in the Technical Assistance Program for Yugoslavia, and as technical adviser for fruit crops at Patzcuao, Michoacan, Mexico. An all-around horticulturist, he was also involved in campus activities, including the Bailey Hortorium and the Cornell Plantations. His extensive community involvement included the First Unitarian Church, the Council of Social Agencies, the Rotary Club, the Ithaca Information Center, the Ithaca Men's Garden Club, and Hospicare of Tompkins County. He championed local causes ranging from battles against efforts to fluoridate the public water supply to helping found a Senior Citizens Center. His concern for protecting natural resources led him to lead an effort to acquire as many as possible of the one hundred glens along Cayuga Lake for incorporation into the state park system, and he served on a number of local environmental groups, notably the Cayuga Lake Preservation Association, the Circle Greenway Committee, and the New York Nature Conservancy. In 1973, on the occasion of his 85th birthday, a natural area in the Coy Glen Gorge was donated to the university as the L.H. MacDaniels Botanical Sanctuary.

Professor MacDaniels co-authored with Arthur J. Eames An Introduction to Plant Anatomy. He was a member of honorary and professional societies, including the American Society for Horticultural Science (of which he served as president in 1940), the Botanical Society of America, the Northern Nut Growers Association (president, 1951), North American Lily Society (President 1947-49, 1955-57), and the New York Academy of Sciences. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Horticultural Science, and the Royal Horticultural Society of London. In 1966, he was awarded the Wilder Medal from the American Pomological Society; in 1979 he received the Land Award of the New York Nature Conservancy; and in 1980, he received the Lytell Lily Cup from the Royal Horticultural Society of London.