As Science Advisor to the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s board since 1982, I provide expert advice on technical matters having to do with the foundation’s mission. Upon my retirement from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, I became a Senior Fellow. In this role, I offer the board and staff advice and assistance on a range of conservation issues, and represent the foundation at public meetings and in dealings with the academic community. I also do a lot of public outreach and lecturing for the foundation.
Since childhood I’ve been interested in wildlife. Growing up, I had many influential role models, including Rachel Carson, Roger Tory Peterson, Stewart Udall, and Durwood Allen, who each interacted with me at important points in my adolescence. As a high school student, I worked at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
While a student at Cornell University, I participated in the first Earth Day and decided to pursue a career in conservation biology after having one of Leopold’s grad students, Dan Thompson, as my undergraduate advisor. I have all my degrees (B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD in ecology) from Cornell.
From 1976 to 2008, I was the Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at UW-Madison. This is the position first held by Aldo Leopold (1933 to 1948) and then by Joseph Hickey (1948 to 76). I am now an active professor emeritus.
Teaching and following in Aldo’s footsteps has allowed me to promote his land ethic and conservation ideas in 21 countries. For this and other contributions to the field of conservation, I have received national and international recognition. Among many other conservation activities, I served as president of the Society for Conservation Biology and chairman of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. I’ve also authored more than 330 publications on conservation and ecology.
I continue to be inspired by and indebted to Leopold and will continue striving to convince people to tackle what he called “the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”