Leading biologist E.O. Wilson establishes partnership with Duke

jstancill@newsobserver.comNovember 20, 2013 

— Renowned scientist E.O. Wilson is moving his biodiversity foundation to Duke University, where he will also teach a graduate-level course.

Wilson, a research scientist and professor emeritus at Harvard University, will house his E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment under an agreement signed this week. The school will soon open Duke Environment Hall, a new building with green design and energy-saving features.

Landing a partnership with Wilson is a coup for Duke. Wilson will teach a graduate course on biodiversity and the meaning of human existence in the spring. Duke plans to broadcast the lectures on iTunes U.

In the university’s announcement Wednesday, Duke’s Nicholas School Dean William Chameides called the new partnership with Wilson “an incredible opportunity” for Duke students and faculty.

The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation was founded in 2006, inspired by Wilson’s work to foster biodiversity research. The foundation aims to increase public understanding of biodiversity to promote protection of the planet’s diverse species.

Wilson is considered the world’s leading authority on the study of ants and ant behavior. His decades of research into ant communication and insect societies blossomed into the field of sociobiology, the study of the biological basis for animal and human behavior.

He is also a theorist, naturalist and author of best-selling books such as “Letters to a Young Scientist,” “On Human Nature” and “The Social Conquest of Earth.” He twice won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the U.S. National Medal of Science and the Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science.

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