Renowned biologist Edward Osborne Wilson will lecture on the importance of environmental preservation and biodiversity tonight at 8 p.m. in Campbell Hall.
Revered as the “father of sociobiology,” Wilson coined the term “biodiversity” and is credited with having heavily inf luenced contemporary environmental movements. Following his talk today, Wilson will travel to Yosemite tomorrow to speak to the National Parks Institute about natural parks as living laboratories for the study of natural biodiversity. Wilson also will discuss his most recent book, The Creation – An Appeal to Save Life on Earth at today’s event.
According to Wilson, addressing climate change and sustainable issues will help preserve the living and physical worlds. He also said protecting both is crucial to the preservation of the natural environments that maintain biodiversity.
“Common sense says that if we preserve the living environment, we will also preserve biodiversity,” Wilson said. “We have to save the physical environment in order to save the living environment.”
Wilson has received numerous distinctions for his work, including two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Medal of Science, Gold Medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society and the Nierenberg Prize. Wilson is also ranked as one of America’s “25 Most Inf luential People” by TIME magazine.
Wilson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Alabama. He received a doctorate at Harvard University and was a Junior Fellow until 1956 before joining the university’s faculty. Wilson is now a professor emeritus and honorary entomology curator for Pellegrino University.
Wilson said exploring entomology sparked his interest in other aspects of biology, including biodiversity, animal behavior and animal psychology.
“That’s what I want to stress to the students — they should study biology and biodiversity at the university and beyond,” Wilson said. “These are among the subjects that would be worth paying attention to, both for the general good and because it also offers a lot of opportunities for careers in the future.”
After reading an excerpt from Wilson’s fictional work “Anthill” last year, Santa Barbara lawyer John Steed said he decided to help fund Wilson’s visit to UCSB.
“My wife and I felt that the message that E.O. Wilson has so effectively articulated in his books deserved as wide an audience as possible,” Steed said. “The Times of London praises him extensively. It refers to him as one of the greatest men alive. I figure if The Times of London recognizes him as one of the greatest men alive, then we’re lucky to have him here.”
Wilson’s latest project is The Encyclopedia of Life website featuring data about every living species.
“If you don’t already have a genuine interest in nature, acquire it,” Wilson said. “There’s a whole world out there for you to discover and take pleasure from. Turn the interest that you have in nature and the love for it into active support of programs that are dedicated to saving it and understanding it.”
Tickets cost $15 for UCSB students and $25 for the general public.