One of the world’s greatest biologists, E.O. Wilson has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his pioneering books, “The Ants” and “On Human Nature.” Professor emeritus and honorary curator in entomology at Harvard University, Wilson played a key role in the development of the new field of chemical ecology in the 1950s and 60s. With several collaborators he discovered much of the pheromone language of ants, and with William H. Bossert of Harvard University, he created the first general theory of properties of chemical communication. Because all plants and microorganisms, as well as the vast majority of animals, communicate primarily or entirely by pheromones, the importance of this work is considerable. His lecture focuses on his two recently published books, “The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization By Instinct” (W. W. Norton) and “Kingdom of the Ants: José Celestino Mutis and the Dawn of American Natural History” (Johns Hopkins University Press). The former is an exhaustive study of everything known about these amazing ants; the latter, the initial study of leafcutter ants in the New World by the first scientific natural historian, José Celestino Mutis, who worked in Colombia in the 1700s.
Introduced by Cristián Samper, Director, National Museum of Natural History. A book signing of E.O. Wilson’s two recent books follows the lecture.