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Edward O. Wilson - Biographical Information 
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Post Edward O. Wilson - Biographical Information
Edward O. Wilson - Biographical Information


A Harvard professor for four decades, biologist Edward O. Wilson has written 20 books, won two Pulitzer prizes, and discovered hundreds of new species. Considered to be one of the world's greatest living scientists, Dr. Wilson is often called, "the father of biodiversity." A childhood accident claimed the sight in his right eye. In adolescence, he lost part of his hearing. He struggled with math and a mild form of dyslexia. Any one of these imperfections might have blocked the road to a scientific career. But nothing could stop Ed Wilson's curiosity of the natural world. So, he decided to focus on the tiny creatures he could pick up and bring close to his remaining good eye. He decided to study insects, particularly ants. Today Dr. Wilson is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century.


Birmingham, Alabama, June 10, 1929

Graduated Decatur Senior High School, Decatur, Alabama, 1946 B.S. (biol.), University of Alabama, 1949
M.S. (biol.), University of Alabama, 1950
Ph.D. (biol.), Harvard University, 1955


Alabama Department of Conservation: Entomologist, 1949
Harvard University: Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows, 1953-56
Assistant Professor of Biology, 1956-58
Associate Professor of Zoology, 1958-64
Professor of Zoology, 1964-1976
Curator in Entomology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, 1973-97
Honorary Curator in Entomology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, 1997-
Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, 1976-1994
Mellon Professor of the Sciences, 1990-1993
Pellegrino University Professor, 1994 - June 1997
Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, July 1997-December 1997
Pellegrino University Research Professor, December 9, 1997-
University of California, Berkeley: Hitchcock Visiting Professor, 1972
Society for the Study of Evolution: President, 1973
Marine Biological Laboratories: Board of Trustees, 1976-80
John Simon Guggenheim Foundation: Fellow, 1976
Advisory Board, 1977-81; Committee of Selection, 1982-89
World Wildlife Fund: Scientific Advisory Committee, 1978-
World Wildlife Fund; Board of Directors, 1984-94
World Wildlife Fund; Executive Committee, 1987-92
National Research Council: Board on Science and Technology in International Development, 1984-86
Committee on Research Opportunities in Biology, 1985-89
Chairman, Committee on Biodiversity, 1988-90
National Science Board Taskforce on Biodiversity, 1987-89
Xerces Society; President, 1989-90
New York Botanical Garden: Board of Directors, 1992-95
New York Botanical Garden; Honorary Manager of the Board of Directors, 1995-
American Academy for Liberal Education; Founding Director, 1992-
American Museum of Natural History, Board of Directors, 1993-
The Nature Conservancy, Board of Directors, 1993-
Conservation International, Board of Directors, 1997-
Scientific Committee of the Ministry of the Environment, Colombia, 1999--

Awards (Science)

National Medal of Science (1976)
Presidential Citation, American Psychological Association (1999)
William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, Sigma Xi (1997)
First recipient, Edward Osborne Wilson Naturalist Award, The American Society of Naturalists (1997)
Certificate of Distinction, Council of the XX International Congress of Entomology (1996)
David Ingalls Award for Excellence, Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1995)
Eminent Ecologist Award, Ecological Society of America (1994)
Henry Shaw Medal, Missouri Botanical Garden (1993)
International Prize for Biology, Government of Japan (1993)
Association of Systematics Collections Award (1991)
Crafoord Prize, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1990)
Prix du Institut de la Vie, Paris (1990)
Revelle Medal, San Diego Natural History Museum (1990)
Benjamin Dann Walsh Award, Illinois Academy of Sciences, Chicago (1989)
Founders' Award, Field Museum, Chicago (1989)
Terrestrial Ecology Prize of the Ecology Institute, Germany (1987)
National Zoological Park Medal in Zoology and Conservation (1987)
L. O. Howard Distinguished Achievement Award,
Entomological Society of America (1985)
Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1984)
Leidy Medal, Academy of Natural Sciences (1979)
Carr Medal, University of Florida (1979)
Distinguished Service Award, American Institute of Biological Sciences (1976)
Founders' Memorial Award, Entomological Society of America (1973)
Mercer Award, Ecological Society of America(1971)
Cleveland Research Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science ( 1968 )

Awards (Letters)

pg Pulitzer Prize, General Non-fiction, On Human Nature (1979)
Pulitzer Prize, General Non-fiction, The Ants (1991)
Clarence Cason Award, University of Alabama, Non-fiction Writing (1999)
Reading for the Environment, Deutsche Umweltstiftung, The Diversity of Life ( 1998 )
Benjamin Franklin Award, Publishers Marketing Association, Naturalist (1995)
Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Science, Naturalist (1995)
Science Book of the Year, Germanjournalist, Bild der Wissenschaft, Journey to the Ants (1995)
Phi Beta Kappa Prize, Science, Journey to the Ants (1995)
John Hay Award, Orion Society (1995)
1994 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, American Association for the Advancement of Science(1995)
1994 Award for Increasing the Public Understanding of Science, Council of Scientific Society Presidents (1994)
Distinguished Achievement Award, Educational Press Association of America (1994)
Sir Peter Kent Conservation Book Prize, Book Trust, U.K., The Diversity of Life (1994)
Wildlife Society Book Award, The Diversity of Life (1993)
Hawkins Award, Outstanding Professional or Reference Work, American Publishers Association, The Ants (1991)
Ingersoll Prize in Scholarly Letters, 1989 Richard Weaver Award, Rockford, Illinois (1989)
Book of the Year Award, Alabama Library Association (1979)

Awards (Conservation)

David B. Stone Award, New England Aquarium (1999)
Scientific Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society (1999)
100 Champions of Conservation, 20th Century, National Audubon Society( 1998 )
Zoological Society of San Diego Conservation Medal ( 1998 )
Earthwatch Global Citizen Award (1997)
Frances K. Hutchinson Medal, Garden Club of America (1997)
Bruno H. Schubert Prize, Germany (1996)
Audubon Medal, National Audubon Society (1995)
Wildlife Conservation Award, Cincinnati Zoo (1994)
National Conservation Achievement Award, National Wildlife Federation (1992)
Distinguished Service Award, Society for Conservation Biology (1991)
Gold Medal, Worldwide Fund for Nature(WWF-International) (1990)

Awards and Recognition (General)

Humanist of the Year, American Humanist Association (1999)
Sir George Deacon Medal, Fulbright Association, for interdisciplinary studies (1999)
Benjamin Franklin Medal, American Philosophical Society ( 1998 )
Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award, Birmingham, Alabama ( 1998 )
McGovern Award, Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C. (1996)
Bradford Washburn Award, Museum of Science, Boston (1996)
America's 25 Most Influential People, TIME (1996)
Laureate, Alabama Academy of Honor, State Legislature (1995)
Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Harvard College (1995)
University Medal, Complutense University of Madrid (1995)
Levenson Prize (teacher of the year), Harvard College (1992)
Distinguished Scientific Humanist Award, Free Inquiry (1990)
University Medal, University of Helsinki (1989)
Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement ( 1988 )
Rector's Medal of the University of Bergen (1987)
Laureate, Academy of Humanism (1983)
Distinguished Humanist Award, American Humanist Association (1982)
Sesquicentennial Medal, University of Alabama (1981)


American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1959)
American Philosophical Society (1976)
Animal Behavior Society (1976)
Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (German Academy of Sciences) (1977)
Royal Society of Sciences of Uppsala (1989)


National Academy of Sciences (1969)

Foreign Member

Royal Society, England (1990)
Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (1990)
Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (1994)

Honorary Life Member

American Genetic Association (1981)
British Ecological Society (1983)
Entomological Society of America (1987)
Darwin Society, University of Bergen (1987)
American Humanist Association (1989)
Zoological Society of London (1992)
Linnean Society of London (1994)
Netherlands Entomological Society (1995)
Association for Tropical Biology (1999)

Member of founding group of the following organizations

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)
Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS)
Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory

Honorary Degrees

D.H.C. University of Madrid (Complutense), 1995
D.Phil. (hon. caus.):
Uppsala University, 1987
D.Sc. (hon. caus.):

Duke University, 1978;
Grinnell College, 1978;
University of West Florida, 1979;
Lawrence University, 1979;
Fitchburg State College, 1989;
Macalester College, 1990;
University of Massachusetts, 1993;
Oxford University, 1993;
Ripon College,1994;
University of Connecticut, 1995;
Bates College, 1996;
Ohio University, 1996;
College of Wooster, 1997;
University of Guelph, 1997;
Muhlenberg College, 1998;
Yale University, 1998;
Cedar Crest College, 1999;
State University of New York, Albany, 1999

L.H.D. (hon.caus.):

University of Alabama, 1980;
Hofstra University, 1986;
Pennsylvania State University, 1995;
University of Portland,1997;
Bradford College, 1997

LL.D. (hon.caus.): Simon Fraser University, 1982


Griswold Lecture, Cornell University ( 1968 )
Bartram Lecture, Florida State University (1976)
Messenger Lectures, Cornell University (1976)
Distinguished Lecture, Eastern Psychological Association (1977)
Leon Lecture, University of Pennsylvania (1977)
Gilmour Lecture, Johns Hopkins University (1977)
Orr Lectures, Dartmouth College (1977)
Beatty Lectures, McGill University (1977)
Harris Lectures, Northwestern University ( 1978 )
Tanner Lecture in Philosophy, University of Michigan (1979)
Patten Memorial Lectures, Indiana University (1979)
Annual Lecture, Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. (1979)
Tarner Lecturer, Trinity College, Cambridge University (1979-82)
Aharon Katzir-Katchalsky Lecture, Weizmann Institute, Israel (1980)
George Gay Lecture in Ethics, Harvard Medical School (1980)
Wilhemine Key Lecture, American Genetic Association (1980)
Adolf Meyer Lecture, American Psychiatric Association (1981)
Inaugural Corliss Lamont Lecture, American Humanist Association (1982)
Philip Denecke Lecture, Oxford University (1982)
Plenary Lecture, American Psychoanalytic Association (1982)
Robert Clinton Rhodes Lecture, Emory University (1983)
Loren Eisley Lecture, University of Pennsylvania (1983)
Man and Ideas Lecture, Carnegie Institute (1984)
Presidential Lecture, Rice University (1984)
Rosenstadt Visiting Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto (1984)
Lewis Clark Vanuxum Lecture, Princeton University (1985)
Mangelsdorf Lecture, University of North Carolina (1985)
Centennial Lecture, University of Arizona (1985)
Tansley Lecture, British Ecological Society (1985)
Felix Santschi Lecture, University of Z

Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:12 pm
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Diamond Contributor 3

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Post Edward O. Wilson on The Paula Gordon Show
Edward O. Wilson on The Paula Gordon Show

The Science of Survival


The real work of the 21st century, according to the great Harvard scientist Edward O. Wilson, is to settle humanity down before we wreck the planet. Dr. Wilson says the explosion of the human population promises 8 billion people living on earth within 40 years (as compared to 2 billion in 1900.) It's a vast bottleneck coinciding with a documented worldwide decline in arable land and water. And we people are pushing the rest of life off the face of the earth. But Wilson also offers both hope and plans for action.

While Dr. Wilson expects the 21st century will be a scary rush of accelerating change, if -- and this is a very big "if" -- if we address our challenges of natural resources, conservation, and human population, we have a chance for a quieter, more secure time for humans and other forms of life on the other side.

We need what we are destroying. Creepy-crawlies and weeds are the very foundation of life, the little things that run the earth, cycle and recycle nutrients, create the air and soil. And they do it for free. Without them, Wilson assures us the terrestrial ecosystems of the world would collapse within a year, making human life unsustainable. That's before taking into account the species we are driving to extinction provide us priceless resources for scientific information, new pharmaceuticals, and much more.

Besides, Wilson asks, who are we to destroy Creation, the product of 100s of millions of years of evolution?

People all over the world are in denial, Wilson worries. We're refusing to face the urgency of pollution, environmental degradation, climate warming and looming populations. Just providing adequate nutrition for 8 billion people -- 80% of whom will live in developing nations -- will be a challenge, let alone coping with their rising expectations for American-style comfort and security. Meanwhile, humans are causing a great extinction spasm on the planet. So what? It will take evolution 10 million years to replace the species we are poised to wipe out in the next couple of decades.

Right now, we don't have enough knowledge and we're not trying hard enough to get it. Our public intellectuals are failing us - talk show hosts, op-ed writers, advisors, political leaders and educators are not telling us about the real world, not developing global population and environmental policies. We can get through the coming bottleneck if we are very, very careful and if we manage our resources. But that won't happen if we continue in what Dr. Wilson calls our current shortsighted, reckless, territorial, barbaric, blinkered manner.

Confront and overcome our denial. Understand as exactly as we can who we are, where we came from, how we relate to this planet. Apply that understanding to create some kind of equilibrium so that our natural resources are sustainable. Follow the evidence in the sciences and the humanities that runs in the direction of our fundamental commonalities within the human species and within knowledge itself. Learn to deal with issues, to think on your own, to cut across fields, to integrate science and the humanities. And do it before it's too late.

When all else fails, do people really turn to reason? We'll soon find out.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandella

Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:26 pm
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Post Re: Edward O. Wilson on The Paula Gordon Show
: Harvard University: Junior Fellow, Society of Fellows, 1953-56

During the late 1920s, it was feared that the US was losing its competitiveness in the sciences. The Junior Fellow program was instituted at Harvard after studying European universities. Senior Fellows were established scientists, Junior Fellows were budding scholars. They socialized and ate together. The Junior Fellows were given accomodation and a generous stipend, with no strings attached. They could work on whatever they wanted.

B.F.Skinner was in the first batch of Junior Fellows as were Galbraith and a philosopher whose name I cannot recall at the moment. Several Nobel laureates have come out of this program including the one who won the Physics prize twice. Noam Chomsky was a Junior Fellow too. [What can I say, they screw up once in a while :-)] This program is continuing to date.


Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 am

Post Re: Edward O. Wilson on The Paula Gordon Show
Here's another interview. Sadly, it is with Dick Gordon, not Chris Lydon (who made the show what it was).

But here's the link:

and here's another one on the ode to ants:

Edited by: janterry  at: 11/28/04 8:05 am

Sun Nov 28, 2004 7:41 am
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