The Linnean Society of London has awarded Edward O. Wilson, Pelegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus, one of three specially-commissioned Tercentenary Medals to honor his outstanding contribution to the world’s understanding of natural history and the environment. HRH The Princess Royal presented the award Wilson and to Sir David Attenborough, and Steve Jones, the other two recipients of the awards marking the culmination of the Linnaean Tercentenary year.
The Swedish naturalist, Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) developed the two-word binomial naming system in his book Species plantarum (1753). The system was universally adopted by scientists and enabled the scientific world to be able communicate with each other about species of plants and animals, a system that is still used today. In celebration of Linnaeus’ Tercentenary, the Society wished to recognize the continuing importance of the communication of natural history and the biological sciences to raise both professional and public awareness in our understanding of the natural world, its wonders and the threats facing it.
The three medals were commissioned from the award-winning designer Felicity Powell, each one representing a century since Linnaeus’ birth. In describing the medal, the designer reflects that ‘the design pays homage to Linnaeus’ great gift as a teacher and communicator in his lifetime’.
The afternoon’s proceedings opened with the Society’s President, Professor David Cutler admitting HRH The Princess Royal as an Honorary Member of the Society. Her Royal Highness then presented the medals. In speaking of the significance of the awards, Professor Cutler said ‘The specially-struck medals are for people internationally recognized for their contribution to our understanding of the natural world who are outstanding and effective popularisers, particularly of the broad concepts of evolution and the importance of biodiversity’.
This event concludes the Linnean Society’s Tercentenary celebrations for the year. The 4,000 letters in the Linnaean Correspondence and 14,300 Linnaean Herbarium specimens are now available online through the Society’s website. The Linnaeus Link Project was internationally launched in Uppsala in September and new contributors are coming on-stream to join the initiative. The Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project concluded earlier this year with the launch of the outstanding publication Order out of Chaos: Linnaean Plant Names and their Types.