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Webpage Feature

See the Secret Residents

Most of the visitors who come to the Wildflower Center are looking for flowers, and that's what they see-wildflowers in all hues in all seasons.  But flowers aren't the only residents of the Wildflower Center.  The native plants create a rich habitat for an amazing array of creatures, and Bruce Leander, whose business card reads:  "Biotechnology  - Art  -  Photography . - Golf " has been capturing them with his camera.

For the past several months, Bruce has been a familiar site at the Wildflower Center toting a tripod and a camera bag, usually focused tightly on some blooming plant.  But as you can see from these remarkable photographs, his lens very often captures the insects, reptiles, amphibians and arachnids that make their home here.

He got interested in botanical photography in his wife's garden-she is a master gardener and a regular contributor to Texas Gardener magazine.  "We loved the Wildflower Center, and I thought perhaps they could use my photography to help communicate what a special place it is and how fortunate we are to have it right here in Austin," Bruce said.  "Meanwhile, I'm having a great time and learning a lot about native plants and all the creatures I see here."

When Bruce first enrolled in Springfield College in Springfield, MA, he was an art major.  His parents didn't approve, so he changed his major to biology, eventually earning a master's degree in zoology from Texas Tech University and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin.

He became a successful executive in the fast-emerging field of biotechnology, serving as Vice President of Pharmacia Biotech in Milwaukee before becoming President of Ambion, Inc., in Austin, an international supplier of RNA-related reagents and biomedical research kits.

After Applied Biosystems acquired Ambion, Leander helped them complete the integration, then  helped create and chaired the BIOaustin Council for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.  At that point, he was free to pursue his first love-art and photography. 

He has come a long way, of course, from his high school days when he painted houses, cut grass and worked as a night watchman in a cemetery to earn money for his first good camera, a Nikon F2.  That replaced his first camera, a Brownie which he converted with aluminum foil so he could take close-ups.  He now uses Nikon digital cameras and lenses.

The Wildflower Center is grateful for the relationship and contribution of his magnificent fine art photography, which will be used as exhibits as well as enhancing our Native Plants Information Network image database.