Birthday: June 10, 1929
Age: 91 Years, 91 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Edward Osborne Wilson, Edward O. Wilson, E. O.
Born in: Birmingham
Famous as: Biologist
Spouse/Ex-: Irene Wilson
father: Edward Wilson
mother: Inez Wilson
children: Catherine Wilson
education: 1955 - Harvard University, 1950 - University of Alabama, 1949 - University of Alabama
awards: 1991; 1979 - Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction - The Ants; On Human Nature
2013 - Hubbard Medal
2010 - Heartland Prize
1993 - International Prize for Biology
1994 - Eminent Ecologist Award
2001 - Nierenberg Prize
2002 - kNatural World Book Prize
1975 - Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences; US & Canada
1977 - National Medal of Science for Biological Sciences
1990 - Crafoord Prize in Biosciences
2003 - Julia Ward Howe Prize
1999 - Clarence Cason Award
Edward Osborne Wilson or better known as E. O. Wilson is one of the world’s leading expert in the field of biology. Born in the Alabama, he spent his early childhood in the Washington. When his parents separated, Edward went on to stay with his father. Owing to a fishing accident in his childhood, Wilson had to live with a dysfunctional left eye his whole life. His disability prevented him from studying animals and birds in the field so he concentrated on studying miniature creatures such as ants and bugs. Thus began a long-lasting association and in today’s world he is regarded as the foremost authority on the study of ants which is also known as myrmecology and he has contributed immensely towards further discoveries in this field. In addition to myrmecology, E. O. Wilson is also credited for being the founding father of the branch of biology known as socio-biology and biodiversity. In addition to his research work, he has written bestselling books that have gone on to win major accolades. Many universities and organizations across the world have conferred upon him numerous accolades and honours. Read on to know more about the life, work and achievements of this eminent biologist
Childhood & Early Life
Wilson was born on June 10, 1929 in the town of Birmingham, Alabama to Edward Wilson and Inez Wilson. In his early childhood, the Wilson family mainly lived in areas close to Washington DC and Mobile in Alabama.
His parents got divorced in 1936, when Wilson was only 7 years old and he started to live with Edward and his second wife. It was at this time that Wilson blinded an eye while fishing and though he underwent a cataract operation the vision in his left eye remained impaired.
From a very early age, Wilson was interested in insects and in particular he has a special attachment to ants; whose activities he studied with much care. By the time he was 18 he also became interested in flies but returned to study ants.
Wilson decided to make biology his career and enrolled in the ‘University of Alabama’. He was awarded his bachelor’s degree in the year 1949 and a year later he was awarded the MS in biology that paved the way for a highly successful career.
However Wilson’s thirst for knowledge did not end after acquiring the MS from the University of Alabama; he then proceeded to the hallowed Harvard University to earn a doctorate in biology in the year 1955. Subsequently he became a faculty member of Harvard.
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It was in the year 1955 that Wilson first came up with his first breakthrough in the study of ants as he finished taxonomic analysis of a particular breed of ants named Lasius and eventually came up with the concept of 'character displacement’ of species. He worked on the project with W. L. Brown.
1956 was a very productive year in Wilson’s career as he was successful in making more than one discovery. The first was the discovery of pheromones in ants that help in their communication and the second was the discovery of the taxon cycle which chronicled the changing habitats of different species.
He worked on the study of ants for many years and finally came up with his first major book titled ‘The Insect Societies’ in the year 1971. The book went on to win many accolades and is regarded as one of the most authoritative books on the subject ever written.
In the year 1975, Wilson came up with another unique branch of biological study known as socio-biology and published the book ‘Sociobiology: The New Synthesis’ which went on to become a famous but also controversial work among academicians.
His books ‘On Human Nature’ written in the year 1979 Wilson further explained the theories he first put forward in relation to socio-biology and applied it to the characteristics of human beings.
In 1990, he co-authored the book ‘The Ants’ with Bert Holldobler and the book was the sum total of all the research that he had done on the biological characteristics of ants of different species. The book won him another Pulitzer Prize.
Wilson continued to work diligently in various branches of biological science for many decades and in the year 1996 he gave up his teaching job at Harvard. However, he is still a Professor Emeritus at Harvard and also holds a lectureship at ‘Duke University’.
In the year 1998, Wilson published the book ‘Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge’ that put forward different ways in which the different sciences could be united and in fact also suggested ways in which the sciences could amalgamate with the humanities.
The book ‘Diversity of Life’ he published in the year 1992 also went on to become one of the best sellers of the period and the book also explained how the extinction of certain species came about due to the various activities of human beings.
Award & Achievements
He won a Pulitzer Prize for the book ‘On Human Nature’ in the year 1979 and it remains one of the most important works on the subject of socio-biology.
Wilson won the ‘Crandoor Prize’ in the year 1990 for his theory on island biogeography and it is the highest prize in the biological sciences that is decided by the ‘Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’.
In the year 1991, he won the Pulitzer Prize again for his path breaking book ‘The Ants’ which he co-authored with Bert Holldobler.
‘TIME Magazine’, one of the most influential magazines in the world, named him among the top 25 most influential individuals in the USA.
Personal Life & Legacy
E. O. Wilson got married in the year 1955 to Irene and the couple currently lives in Lexington, Massachusetts. They have one daughter named Catherine who was born to them thirteen years later.