Wilson receives NCSE’s Lifetime Achievement Award

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Harvard professor Edward O. Wilson is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). The award, “For a Distinguished Career as an Innovative Leader Advancing Scientific and Public Understanding and Conservation of Biological Diversity,” was presented at a special ceremony during the ninth National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: “Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World,” held on Dec. 8 in Washington, D.C.

Pellegrino University Professor emeritus and honorary curator of entomology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Wilson is world-renowned for his research on ants and on big questions of science and society. The recipient of many honors, including the National Medal of Science, the International Prize for Biology, the gold medal of the World Wildlife Fund, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the American Humanist Association, and the Crafoord Prize from the Swedish Academy of Sciences (which is ecology’s approximation of the Nobel Prize), Wilson is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He won in 1979 for his book “On Human Nature” and again in 1991 for “The Ants.” Some of his other works include “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis,” “The Biophilia Hypothesis,” “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge,” and “The Future of Life.”

NCSE Senior Scientist David Blockstein noted, “E.O. Wilson is an iconic figure in science and conservation whose impact is almost impossible to overstate. Yet, he remains a humble individual. He brought the biodiversity crisis to the public attention and made it legitimate for basic scientists to be involved in conservation issues. Now he is trying to bring the forces of science and religion together in a holy crusade to save life on Earth.”

Wilson received his award alongside fellow biodiversity pioneers George Rabb and Peter Raven. Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, moderated a conversation, “Looking Forward, Looking Backward,” with the awardees. The award presentations were preceded by a special posthumous recognition of the late congressman James H. Scheuer (D-N.Y.), author of the National Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Research Act introduced in Congress in 1988. Following the ceremony for the NCSE Lifetime Achievement Award, genomic research pioneer J. Craig Venter presented the ninth John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture on Science and the Environment, “A Genomic View of Life.”

NCSE is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving the scientific basis for environmental decision-making by bridging the gap between the scientific knowledge required to resolve environmental problems and the process of implementing viable solutions. NCSE seeks to accomplish this objective by creating innovative multi-stakeholder networks that link this scientific knowledge to the decision-making process in government and business on both the national and international levels. For more information on NCSE, visit