E.O. Wilson as photographed by Fran Keller on Might 19, 2005 at Harvard. She interviewed him for an Entomological Society of America symposium.
UC Davis school and college students are remembering Harvard emeritus professor Edward Osborne (E. O.) Wilson, the legendary biologist, naturalist and writer who died Dec. 26 at age 92 in Burlington, Mass.
Wilson, acknowledged as one of many world’s most influential scientists, was referred to as “The Ant Man,” “The Father of Sociobiology,” “The Father of Range” and “The Fashionable-Day Darwin,” for his pioneering and trailblazing work that drew international admiration and received scores of scientific awards.
However amongst his friends, colleagues and mentees, he was referred to as “Ed.”
Wilson’s work, On Human Nature, received the Pulitzer Prize in 1979. He received a second Pulitzer in 1991 with The Ants, co-authored with colleague Bert Hölldobler. In 1990, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Wilson the Crafoord Prize in biosciences, the very best scientific award within the area. In 1996, Time journal named him one in every of America’s 25 most influential individuals. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Nationwide Medal of Science for his contributions towards the development of information in biology.
Wilson, in line with reviews, all the time thought of himself an Alabaman who went to Harvard, fairly than a Harvard professor born in Alabama. Born June 10, 1929 in Birmingham, Ed graduated from the College of Alabama in 1949 with two levels in biology, and obtained his doctorate in biology from Harvard in 1955. He joined the Harvard school in 1956. Though formally retiring in 1996, he remained lively as an emeritus professor and honorary curator till his demise.
Some tributes from UC Davis school and college students:
Phil Ward: ‘E. O. Wilson Was a Towering Determine’
“E. O. Wilson was a towering determine within the research of social bugs, in evolutionary biology, and in conservation biology,” stated fellow ant specialist and professor Phil Ward of the UC Davis Division of Entomology and Nematology who organized the 2007 E.O. Wilson Festschrift (a set of writings printed in honor of a scholar). “He made vital contributions in all of those areas, however his specialty was the research of ants, these ‘little creatures that run the world.’ Wilson’s guide, The Insect Societies (1971), launched its readers to the fascinating world of ants and different social bugs, utilizing language that was each partaking and accessible, but extremely informative.”
“This was adopted 20 years later by the equally magisterial The Ants, co-authored with Bert Hölldobler,” Ward famous. “These landmark contributions impressed many budding biologists, myself included, to commit ourselves to the research of ants and different social organisms. Equally vital, Wilson argued passionately and compellingly for the conservation of organic variety in a dwindling pure world. He as soon as stated that ‘destroying rainforest for financial achieve is like burning a Renaissance portray to prepare dinner a meal.’ Allow us to honor his legacy by heeding this message!”
Brendon Boudinot: ‘Ant World Is Reeling’
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab and now a postdoctoral researcher in Germany on the Institute of Zoology and Evolutionary Analysis, Friedrich Schiller College Jena, says the ant world is reeling with Wilson’s passing. “A giant chunk of my dissertation was devoted to testing his hypotheses for the origin and early evolution of ants!”
Boudinot met Wilson when he was visiting the Ant Room on the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in 2013. “The work I used to be doing was the inspiration for my research on ant males, and I used to be close to the top of the journey, at one of many many microscopes by the window dealing with the yard,” he stated. “Ed shocked me by coming proper as much as my shoulder on the scope; he requested me what I used to be engaged on. I’m a bit abashed to say that I could not say something as a result of my thoughts went clean! Stef Cowl, the pins-and-points curator instructed Ed what I used to be doing, and for the lifetime of me I’ll all the time keep in mind what Wilson stated. He was pleased that I selected to work on male ants, when this intercourse has been actively ignored by researchers over the previous centuries, and that he himself was extra apt to squash one at a lightweight lure than to gather one. I hope that my keys and diagnoses have helped individuals recognize male ants.”
“I’m so grateful that I met him,” Boudinot stated, “and that I used to be in a position to work with so many individuals in his sphere. The ant world is reeling, as he was a delicate big of myrmecology, and naturally biology writ giant.”
Jill Oberski: ‘He Was Exceedingly Variety and Encouraging’
Doctoral candidate Jill Oberski of the Phil Ward lab met “The Ant Man” in 2019. “I received to satisfy E. O. Wilson once I traveled to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in 2019. Along with myself, there have been a number of different researchers visiting the “Ant Room,” which homes an enormous variety of kind specimens.”
“He requested me about my analysis on Dorymyrmex taxonomy and biogeography, though as a second-year PhD pupil I did not have a lot to report but. He was genuinely considering my work and excited that I used to be working to resolve Dorymyrmex–which has all the time been a taxonomic headache. He additionally instructed me he recalled watching ants forming cone-shaped nests as a toddler in Alabama, which may solely have been Dorymyrmex. He was exceedingly variety and inspiring.
“Lastly, the Ant Room employees and guests ate lunch collectively in Ed’s workplace—lobster sandwiches, weight loss plan Dr. Pepper, and low, as is customary.”
Lynn Kimsey: ‘He Was Good, Humble and Participating’
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, remembers working close to his workplace when she served as a visiting professor/lecturer (1987 to 1989) at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, earlier than becoming a member of the UC Davis school in 1989.
“His workplace was simply down the corridor from mine once I taught at Harvard. Right here he was, one of the well-known biologists of his era and I might see him sit down on the sidewalk to indicate a little bit child the ants there. Additionally, noticed him within the sitting on a bench Burlington Mall whereas his spouse shopped, writing on a yellow pad of paper. Completely targeted on what he was writing with procuring pandemonium throughout. He was good, humble and fascinating.”
Fran Keller: Honored Him at a Particular ESA Symposium
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Fran Keller, a professor at Folsom Lake School, and a analysis scientist on the Bohart Museum of Entomology, helped honor his work at a particular symposium hosted on the 2005 Entomological Society of America assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Our division of entomology helped fund my journey to Harvard,” she recalled, “and he agreed to satisfy me over the course of two days in Might 2005. The ESA symposium befell in mid-December. I recorded our interview on a cassette tape,” she stated, including she hopes to publish it in a journal.
Fran Keller with E. O. Wilson in his workplace on Might 20, 2005.
“We walked across the MCZ (Museum of Comparative Zoology) for a bit collectively, speaking about species discovery, biodiversity and extinction,” she recalled. “We stopped on the show of birds and the ivory-billed woodpecker. We stopped at Darwin’s finches on show. We went into the room the place the rhinos have been displayed and as we stared collectively on the rhinos, silent, I could not assist myself and I started to cry. I apologized for my emotional show and stated ‘It simply makes me horribly unhappy that I’ll by no means get to see this animal within the wild, that it might be misplaced eternally. I am an entomologist, I do not know why this rhino makes me so unhappy. I did not cry in entrance of the ivory-billed woodpecker.”
Wilson responded: “Everybody has an animal that reaches them or that they join with at some stage, regardless that you have been born an entomologist, maybe yours is the rhino.”
“After my interview with Ed, I purchased the guide within the MCZ, The Rarest of the Uncommon: Tales Behind the Treasues on the Harvard Museum of Pure Historical past. In that guide, it highlights the extinct and uncommon species held within the MCZ collections. A kind of specimens is the final Xerces butterfly, which was caught by Harry Lange (UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology). Harry’s quote in that guide, ‘I did not comprehend it was the final one, I believed there could be extra’ after which my time consuming lunch after which wandering the MCZ assortment and chatting with Ed impressed me to create the Xerces t-shirt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology.”
Certainly one of Keller’s mentors, Tom Schoener, studied with Wilson. “I labored on plant ecology and island biogeography for my undergrad analysis (Sacramento Metropolis School),” she stated, “and continued that for awhile in grad faculty (UC Davis). Ed Wilson was one of many founders of island biogeography.”
As a undergraduate at Sacramento Metropolis School, Keller was a part of a area journey to listen to Wilson converse at his 2002 guide tour on The Way forward for Life.
Alex Wild: ‘Ed Wilson Was Certainly one of My Heroes’
UC Davis doctoral alumnus Alex Wild, an evolutionary biologist, science photographer and curator of entomology on the College of Texas, Austin, wrote this on his Twitter account, @Myrmecos, which has greater than 30,000 followers: “Ed Wilson was one in every of my science heroes. Through the years I got here to admire two issues particularly. One was his means to craft technical books so compelling as to launch scores of scientific careers of their wake.”
“The opposite factor is how Ed Wilson dealt with skilled disagreement,” Wild tweeted. “And he had plenty of these, as a result of Wilson was regularly incorrect. About a terrific vary of subjects. For a man recognized for ant analysis, his interpretation of ant origins was simply… foolish.”
“However he continued to help, each financially and professionally, the younger upstarts who, again and again, proved him incorrect. That is a uncommon trait for a area as ego-driven as evolutionary biology.”
When a follower requested: “Are you able to clarify to a non-biologist bug fanatic why his interpretation of ant origins was foolish?”, Wild replied: “His association of the ant subfamilies, primarily based on subjective hunches of evolutionary relationships fairly than information, bore no resemblance in any respect to the well-supported relationships from subsequent data-based research, like https://www.pnas.org/content material/103/48/18172. (This 2006 analysis article, “Evaluating Different Hypotheses for the Early Evolution and Diversification of Ants,” is co-authored by Seán G. Brady, Ted R. Schultz, Brian L. Fisher, and Philip S. Ward and edited by Bert Hölldobler, College of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany)
Diane Ullman: ‘Extraordinary Creativity’
“There are not any phrases that adequately describe E.O. Wilson’s braveness in difficult dogma, his vitality in documenting and sharing the wonders of our planet, or his extraordinary creativity,” stated Diane Ullman, UC Davis professor of entomology and former chair of the Division of Entomology. “A lot of his writing touched me deeply, from his writing concerning the continuum between artwork and science (Consilience), to his collaboration with Bert Hölldobler, addressing the unbelievable biology and conduct of social bugs (Superorganism). He wrote an exquisite, ‘coming of age’ novel, seemingly a lot impressed by his personal youth (Anthill).”
“The primary time I used to be in a position to hear him converse in individual was in 1996 on the Worldwide Congress of Entomology in Florence, Italy, the place he was the plenary speaker opening the assembly. He spoke passionately about lack of biodiversity, and was sounding the alarm on impression of people and local weather change on the planet. He continued to guide this cost as much as the very finish, by no means giving up on proposing potential options on a worldwide scale. He was witty and with use of metaphor made us see so very many issues.”
Diane Ullman obtained the signatures of Bert Hölldobler and E.O. Wilson on their guide, “Superorganism.”
“In 2008, as co-director of the UC Davis Artwork/Science Fusion Program, I led the group of a year-long, interdisciplinary colloquium, entitled: “The Consilience of Artwork and Science.” I invited E.O. to present the opening plenary lecture, which led to an trade of communications, all by snail mail, which he most popular on the time. Amongst my treasures is a letter he typed to me by which he respectfully declined my invitation, however referred to our program as “a spearhead for future inventive work within the mental borderland.” After studying Superorganism in 2009, I despatched E.O. Wilson and Bert Hölldobler every a ceramic ant that was featured in a ceramic mosaic set up of my college students’ work within the UC Davis Arboretum (Oak Household Tree, 2009, giant scale ceramic mosaic at Shields Oak Grove, featured on the quilt of PNAS October 27, 2009). Later that 12 months, I had the chance to satisfy E.O. following a symposium celebrating the publication of Superorganism. I carried my copy to the symposium, and every signed it for me. E.O. remembered our communications and was more than happy with the ceramic ant, so he drew an ant subsequent to his signature. Evidently, this can be a cherished possession. Whereas his scientific prowess and mental capability is what he’ll possible be most remembered for, what impressed me most deeply was his compassion for each residing factor, and his love of our planet in each manner. Might he relaxation in peace, and should his legacy stay on in our combat to avoid wasting the planet.”
Caleb Johnson, who teaches writing at Appalachian State College, Boone, N.C., described E.O. Wilson as “the world’s forestmost authority on biodiversity” in an April 21, 2020 article in The Bitter Southerner. He referred to him as “A world-renowned scientific thinker whose imaginative and prescient for stopping this unprecedented environmental hemorrhaging is predicated on greater than seven many years of cautious witness, writing, and work in ecology and conservation.”
Johnson wrote that Wilson misplaced his proper eye in a fishing accident in the summertime of 1936 close to Paradise Seashore, Fla., however he by no means let that cease his targets.
“Within the Forties, E.O. Wilson was an Alabama teenager who wandered the bottomland round Cell and studied its creatures. He by no means stopped and have become the world’s foremost authority on biodiversity. He is 90 now, however nonetheless working, as a result of he is aware of there is a strategy to undo the injury we have achieved to Mom Earth.”