In Memoriam: Edward Osborne (E.O.) Wilson, 1929 – 2021

Studying nature since the age of nine and becoming the curator of entomology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology might be accomplishment enough for most scientists. E.O. Wilson, however, continued his entire life engaging and inspiring the world in the study of the planet and all its diverse inhabitants down to the tiniest ant. Wilson won a Pulitzer Prize for his book Ants, one of two Pulitzers he was awarded. He became known as the “father of biodiversity.”

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting E.O. Wilson on a couple of occasions, primarily when he assisted the National Park Service in its surveys and studies of wild things, but most recently when he published his book Half Earth. I attended a conference on endangered species legislation at the US Capitol and asked him if he would be kind enough to autograph a copy of his book. I knelt down to speak to him (he preferred to sit when talking as he grew older). When I told him the book would be used to raise funds for the Northcoast Environmental Center in northern California, he said, “Wonderful! Then let’s add some art for the effort!” and in a few seconds inked a perfect ant.

Wilson practiced never-ending work, never-ending joy and never-ending inspiration.

“Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”- E.O. Wilson

Watch a short PBS special on Wilson’s life and work at

E.O Wilson (right) with Dan Sealy (left) signing a copy of his book Half Earth for the NEC at the US Capitol.