DER Documentary

Edward O. Wilson: Reflections on a Life in Science

Edward O. Wilson: Reflections on a Life in Science launch preview watch a preview

by Bruce Baird-Middleton
color, 60 min, 1990

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Edward O. Wilson, the Pelligrino University Professor and Honorary Curator of Entomology at Harvard University, is one of the world's most distinguished and controversial scientists. Through his books and lectures, Wilson has changed the way scientists and nonscientists alike view the natural world by fueling their enthusiasm for science and showing them its immediacy for their everyday lives. Wilson's devotion to natural history, his broad humanistic approach to learning, and a gift for storytelling have made him one of the most popular teachers at Harvard and lecturers around the world.

In this warm and engaging biographical portrait Wilson offers insight into the scientific process, relating how an interest in studying ants and social insects led him to establish the field of sociobiology and to promote the study of biodiversity. He compares scientists to mythmakers and examines the role of imagination in scientific inquiry. Wilson’s passionate concern for the preservation of our natural heritage has placed him in the forefront of environmental activism.

As a young boy growing up in the deep South, Wilson began to dream of going to the "Big Tropics, the Amazon, New Guinea, of discovering new kinds of plants and animals." This urge to explore propelled him from a childhood interest in collecting insects to a career that has encompassed studies in the biology of social insects, ecology, biogeography, sociobiology, and environmental conservation. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science (1976), the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1990), and two Pulitzer Prizes. Prof. Wilson's books include The Insect Societies, Sociobiology: the New Synthesis, On Human Nature, The Diversity of Life, Biophilia, Naturalist, and The Future of Life.

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