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Plant physiologist, conservationist Carl Leopold dies at 89

A. Carl Leopold, the William H. Crocker Scientist Emeritus at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) on Cornell's Ithaca campus, died Nov. 18 at age 89. Leopold was a noted plant physiologist, conservationist and environmental ethicist and the son of "Sand County Almanac" author Aldo Leopold.

Carl Leopold joined BTI in 1977, where he researched seed physiology and desiccation processes for 25 years. Over the years his research group found that a range of sugar compounds serve to stabilize dry seeds and are a major factor in seed longevity in storage. Leopold founded the Finger Lakes Land Trust in Ithaca and was active in the Aldo Leopold Foundation, continuing his father's mission toward ethical land stewardship. He was a founder of the local organization Greensprings, which advocates burial without chemical treatment, and he initiated an ecological restoration program in Costa Rica that strives to restore depleted rainforest.

Leopold earned a bachelor's degree in botany from the University of Wisconsin in 1941 and then served in the marines during World War II, eventually attaining the rank of captain. After the war, he earned a master's and Ph.D. in plant physiology from Harvard University. In 1949, he joined Purdue University as an assistant professor of physiology in horticultural crops and became a full professor within six years, building a reputation as an outstanding scientist.

In the mid-1970s, he served briefly as a senior policy analyst for the National Science Foundation's Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he worked on food and agriculture issues. He then served as dean of the graduate college and assistant vice president for research at the University of Nebraska before joining BTI.

Memorial service details will be announced at a later date.

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Blaine Friedlander