The University of Alabama community mourns the passing of Edward Osborne Wilson, one of The University of Alabama’s legendary and most notable alumni, who passed away Dec. 26.
An American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author, Wilson was considered a pioneer and visionary for his scientific study of sociobiology, biodiversity, ecosystems and more.
“Through a relentless pursuit of new knowledge, our friend E.O. Wilson taught us to view the natural world in fresh and inspiring ways,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “His legendary work will continue to encourage future generations of students who are passionate about science and innovation.”
Wilson’s biological specialty was myrmecology, or the study of ants, for which he was considered the world’s leading expert. Wilson was known for his scientific career, his role as “the father of sociobiology” and “the father of biodiversity,” his environmental advocacy, and his secular-humanist and deist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters.
Among his greatest contributions to ecological theory is the theory of island biogeography, which he developed in collaboration with the mathematical ecologist Robert MacArthur, which is seen as the foundation of the development of conservation area design, as well as the unified neutral theory of biodiversity of Stephen Hubbell. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UA. Wilson was a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (for On Human Nature in 1979 and The Ants in 1991) and a New York Times bestseller for The Social Conquest of Earth, Letters to a Young Scientist and The Meaning of Human Existence.
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The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.