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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Remembering EO Wilson himself from Alabama, a biology giant

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Edward O. Wilson, co-author of "The ants," who won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in general, poses for a portrait on June 10, 1991. Wilson, the pioneering biologist who advocated a new vision of human nature in

The last week of 2021 had a sad end for the scientific fields of ecology, animal behavior, in fact, for all of biology. Edward O. Wilson died December 26th.

Wilson’s prestige among modern biologists is second to none, and tracking the career milestones of this luminaire is easy and difficult, easy because there are so many remarkable achievements to choose from; difficult because deciding which ones to choose is a humble task.

How do you properly classify the world’s best ant expert who has also achieved the highest levels of excellence as an evolutionary biologist, sociobiologist, biogeographer, and philosopher of scientific ethics? I will limit myself to fire ants, islands, and biodiversity as appropriate topics for an environmental column.

Unknown to me at the time, I first crossed the trail of EO Wilson in the 1950’s when, as a high school student in Tuscaloosa, I met Professor Ralph Chermock. Wilson was already on his way to becoming Chermock’s most famous student at the University of Alabama, where he completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.


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