Born in Alabama, Dr. E. O. Wilson spent his formative years exploring forests and tidal pools, an activity that inspired a lifetime of inquiry and discovery.
After completing his studies at the University of Alabama and receiving a PhD from Harvard, Wilson set off on a global expedition to study ants in Cuba, Mexico, New Guinea, and the islands of the South Pacific. His travels led him back to Harvard, where he served as an esteemed professor for 46 years, studying insects, natural selection, biological diversity, and animal behavior. Later in life, Wilson became a fierce advocate for the protection of wild places and endangered wildlife.
During his career, he authored hundreds of scientific studies and several books, including two, On Human Nature and The Ants (the latter coauthored with Dr. Bert Hölldobler), that won the Pulitzer Prize. His 1967 book, The Theory of Island Biogeography, written with Dr. Robert MacArthur, predicted how many species an island would possess based on its size and vicinity to the mainland—a theory that underlies the science of conservation biology.
Wilson was a stalwart defender of the planet’s wild places. In reference to humankind’s destructive tendencies, Wilson declares bluntly in his 1992 book, The Diversity of Life, that “Earth has at last acquired a force that can break the crucible of biodiversity.” In 2008, he unveiled the Encyclopedia of Life, an online resource that will eventually include information about every known species on the planet—educating current and future generations of what has been lost and, hopefully, inspiring them to save what remains.