Renowned American biologist Edward O. Wilson, hailed as "Darwin’s natural heir," died on Sunday at the age of 92 in Burlington, Mass.
His foundation, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, mourned the passing of a "preeminent scientist, naturalist, author, teacher, and our inspiration."
"Beloved by his students throughout the world and at Harvard University where he taught, Dr. Wilson was also an advisor to the world’s preeminent scientific and conservation organizations," wrote the foundation.
"He was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, the author of over 30 books and hundreds of scientific papers, creator of two scientific disciplines including sociobiology, and advances in global conservation, including, 'Half-Earth.' Dr. Wilson was honored with over 100 prizes including the U.S. National Medal of Science, and the Crafoord Prize."
Wilson's friend Paul Simon remembered him as an "intellectual giant and a gentle, humble, compassionate man."
The world lost a great scientist and I, a dear friend, with the passing of E.O. Wilson.— Paul Simon (@PaulSimonMusic) December 27, 2021
Ed was an intellectual giant and a gentle, humble, compassionate man. We were fortunate to have had him for 92 years.
- Paul Simon pic.twitter.com/1HriR0ADcC
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Wilson is regarded as having created the scientific disciplines of island biogeography and sociobiology. He was also known for being a pioneer in biodiversity conservation.
He attended the University of Alabama and later received his Ph.D. in entomology from Harvard University. Wilson's last lecture, “Ecosystems & the Harmony of Nature,” was presented in October of this year in conversation with Sir Richard Attenborough and Sir Tim Smit.
Much of his work had to do with island biogeography, having taken part in expeditions in Australia, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Cuba.
Wilson was once quoted as saying, "You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give."
Wilson was predeceased by his wife Irene K. Wilson and is survived by his daughter Catherine and her husband John.