Thomas Eisner, a world authority on animal behavior, ecology and evolution, is the winner of The Rockefeller University's 2005 Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science. Eisner, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Chemical Ecology at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Institute for Research in Chemical Ecology, will receive the prize in Manhattan on Oct. 11 at The Rockefeller University.
The Lewis Thomas Prize honors "the rare individual who bridges the worlds of science and the humanities -- whose voice and vision can tell us about science's aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing not merely new information but cause for reflection, even revelation." Previous recipients of the prize, first awarded in 1993, include Jared Diamond, Oliver Sacks, E.O. Wilson and Jean-Pierre Changeux.
Eisner, a field biologist, is a pioneer of chemical ecology, the study of chemical interactions between organisms, from the millipede to the bombardier beetle to the garden slug. He has chronicled studies of insects and how they mate, trap their prey and defend themselves in scientific papers, books and on film. He is author or co-author of nine books, including "For Love of Insects," winner of the Best Science Book in the 2004 Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Eisner is also an active conservationist. He is the president of the Xerces Society, an organization devoted to the preservation of invertebrates. He played a key role in initiating the Congressional Fellows Program in Washington and in efforts to preserve wilderness areas in Florida and Texas. Most recently, he advocated "chemical prospecting," the search for new medicinals, agrochemicals and other useful substances from nature. He has brokered a prospecting partnership between Merck & Co. and the government of Costa Rica intended to engender revenue for preservation of the nation's biodiversity.