Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Odum, Eugene Pleasants (United States 1913-2002)

Photo courtesy of Rick O'Quinn, University of Georgia.
By all accounts Eugene Odum was the most distinguished ecologist of his time. He and his younger brother Howard T. teamed for many years to guide ecological studies in a holistic direction they called the ecosystem concept; the goals of their approach are perhaps best relayed in a paper Odum published in Science in 1969, and a later one that appeared in BioScience in 1992. Eugene Odum started out as an ornithologist trained by the prominent naturalist Charles Kendeigh at the University of Illinois; his early studies mix classical ideas on behavior, succession, and population invasion. Through Howard T. he became aware of the ecosystem approach being applied by limnologist George Evelyn Hutchinson at Yale University. Subsequently, the two expanded Hutchinson's vision to one recognizing a full-scale societal agenda: an agenda wedded to the notion of interdependence of all the actors on the stage, whether biotic or abiotic. The older Odum became the better known of the two brothers through his easier writing style, public stands on issues, and especially his book Fundamentals of Ecology, surely the most successful general ecology text ever produced.

Life Chronology

--born in Newport, New Hampshire, on 17 September 1913.
--1934: A.B. in zoology, University of North Carolina (A.M., 1936)
--1934-1936: assistant zoologist, University of North Carolina
--1936-1937: instructor, Western Reserve University
--1939: Ph.D. in zoology, University of Illinois (student of S. C. Kendeigh)
--1939-1940, 1941: resident naturalist at the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville, New York
--1940-1957: member of the zoology faculty, University of Georgia
--1950: publishes "Bird Populations of the Highlands (North Carolina) Plateau in Relation to Plant Succession and Avian Invasion" in Ecology
--1951: uses grant money to initiate program evolving into the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
--1953: publishes the first edition of his Fundamentals of Ecology; founds the Marine Institute, Sapelo Island, Georgia
--1954: studies the effects of nuclear fallout at Eniwetok Atoll
--1956: receives the Mercer Award from the Ecological Society of America
--1957-1984: alumni foundation distinguished professor of zoology, University of Georgia
--1964-1965: president, Ecological Society of America
--1960-1984: first director of the Institute of Radiation Ecology (later known as the Institute of Ecology), University of Georgia
--1969: publishes "The Strategy of Ecosystem Development" in Science
--1970: made a member of the National Academy of Sciences
--1974: receives the Ecological Society of America's Eminent Ecologist award
--1977: receives the Tyler Ecology Award from President Carter
--1976-1984: Fuller E. Callaway professor of ecology, University of Georgia
--1984: retires from the University of Georgia; made professor emeritus
--1985: publishes "Trends Expected in Stressed Ecosystems" in BioScience
--1987: receives the Crafoord prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science
--1989: publishes his Ecology and Our Endangered Life Support Systems
--1991: receives the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Award and gold medal
--1992: publishes "Great Ideas in Ecology for the 1990s" in BioScience
--dies at Athens, Georgia, on 10 August 2002.

For Additional Information, See:

--The New Georgia Encyclopedia. [website]
--Notable Twentieth-Century Scientists, Vol. 3 (1995).
--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 84 (2003).
--Environment and History, Vol. 3 (1997): 209-238.
--Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist & Environmentalist (2002).
--The Auk, Vol. 120(2) (2003): 536-538.
--SWS Bulletin, Vol. 19(4) (2002): 27-28.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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