7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 21, 2005
Edward O. Wilson is one of the most highly respected scientists in the world today. Hailed as "the new Darwin" and one of "America’s 25 Most Influential People" by Time Magazine, Wilson won Pulitzer Prizes in 1979 and 1991 for his books On Human Nature and The Ants. Considered by many to be the father of the modern environmental movement, Wilson has made enormous contributions to the field of conservation.
In his most recent book, the bestselling The Future of Life (2002), Wilson offers a plan for saving the earth, drawing from science, economics and ethics to argue that proper stewardship of the earth’s bio-diversity is not an option—it is a necessity. In 1975 Wilson’s groundbreaking Sociobiology, about the social systems of nonhuman species, was broadly hailed as one of the century’s premier scientific achievements. But the book’s last chapter, which applied the same analysis to human behavior and culture, was widely controversial. With Sociobiology and other writings, Wilson "accomplished something few scientists can claim," Time noted; he created a new field of science: sociobiology. His 1992 book The Diversity of Life—which examines the magnitude of biodiversity and the threats to it—had a major public impact. In Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998), he draws together the sciences, the humanities, and the arts to paint a broad picture of human knowledge.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1929, Wilson earned his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Alabama, and his doctorate from Harvard in 1955. He received the prestigious National Medal of Science from President Jimmy Carter in 1976 for his work in the biological sciences, and in 1990, he won the highest scientific award in the field of ecology, the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 2001 Time said Wilson has enjoyed "one of the great scientific careers of the late twentieth century, a career that began in entomology with a particular passion for ants, but that has since reinvented itself with remarkable frequency, expanding its scope to encompass not just the earth’s smallest creatures but the whole living planet."
The Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University, Wilson continues entomological and environmental research at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Dr. Wilson's keynote address is free and open to the public.