Ornithologist J. Drew Lanham wins E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Award

J. Drew Lanham, a Clemson University ornithologist who has worked to make the conservation science more compelling, relevant, and inclusive, is the recipient of the annual E.O. of the Center for Biodiversity in 2020. Wilson Award for Outstanding Science in the Field of Biodiversity Conservation.

"We are pleased to present this award to Dr. Lanham for his passion and creativity in the struggle to protect the wild creatures with which we share the earth," said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the center. "By exposing how racism and abuse of nature come from a common core, Dr. Lanham is paving the way for a safer and more equitable world for humans and wildlife."

Lanham is a respected Wildlife Ecology Professor and Master Teacher at Clemson, where he has taught courses in Forest Ecology, Conservation Biology, Forest Biodiversity, Wildlife Policy, and Conservation Ornithology and Writing for 25 years. He is the Poet Award Winner from Edgefield County, South Carolina.

Lanham is also an ornithologist, writer, and activist. His work focuses on making conservation science relevant in powerful, understandable ways and examining how culture and ethnic prisms influence the perception of nature and its care.

"I congratulate and thank Dr. Lanham for his work combining science, art and racial justice to advance biodiversity conservation," said E.O. Wilson, the namesake of the award. "His work to make nature conservation more understandable and integrative is crucial for ending the extinction crisis."

Lanham, a noted bird watcher, uses speaking and writing about bird watching as an inspirational way to connect people with nature. For decades he has written and spoken about the experiences of black bird watchers and has written numerous essays on the links between racism and extinction in order to make protection more comprehensive.

"E.O. Wilson has long been a hero and mentor of mine. I am honored to humbly accept this award. I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of nature and the necessary convergence of culture to broaden and deepen the conservation talk, ”Lanham said.

Award is a handmade metal ant sculpture

The E. O. Wilson Prize for Conservation of Biodiversity, presented to Dr. J. Drew Lanham, Center for Biodiversity, 2020

The Center for Biodiversity presents the E.O. Wilson Award annually to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to conservation. It is named after the renowned Harvard University scientist Edward O. Wilson, who is known as the "Father of Biodiversity". Wilson's career has been focused on inspiring people to understand and protect the diversity of plants and animals around the world, and he is the world's leading authority on ants.

The E.O Wilson Award consists of a hand-crafted metal ant sculpture by Anne Bujold, Visiting Sculpture Assistant at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a cash prize of $ 1,000.

The five previous winners were Rebecca Hernandez for promoting sustainable renewable energy; the late Lincoln Brower for protecting monarch butterflies; Aradhna Tripati for groundbreaking research on climate change; Tyrone Hayes for protecting people and wildlife from pesticides; and the late James Deacon on the protection of freshwater species.

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