Odum School of Ecology presents “Darwin, Odum, and Ecological Challenges for the 21st Century” on Sept. 14

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  The Odum School of Ecology kicks off a celebration of its tenth anniversary—and the fiftieth of its precursor, the Institute of Ecology—with a lecture, discussion and pair of exhibitions at the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library on Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m. Featured speakers include Betty Jean Craige, University Professor of Comparative Literature Emerita and Director Emerita of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts; David C. Coleman, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Ecology; and James W. Porter, Meigs Professor of Ecology Emeritus. The talks will be followed by a reception and book signing, and two related exhibitions will be on view in the library galleries. The event is free and open to the public. 

Craige, author of Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist, and Coleman, author of Big Ecology: The Emergence of Ecosystem Science, will discuss the establishment of the UGA Institute of Ecology and the scientific contributions of its founder Eugene P. Odum. The Institute was renamed the Odum School of Ecology in his honor in 2007, becoming the first college in the world devoted solely to the study of ecology. 

In his presentation, “Darwin, Odum, and Ecological Challenges for the Twenty-first Century,” Porter will then describe the scientific advancements made by Darwin and Odum in their mid-Pacific atoll research and use this groundbreaking nineteenth and twentieth century science to highlight environmental challenges facing us today. Porter’s talk will conclude with an audience discussion. 

“We're so excited about our 50/10 celebration, bringing together alumni and friends of the Institute and Odum School,” said John Gittleman, University of Georgia Foundation Professor in Ecology and dean of the Odum School, who will open the event. “At our initial launch, it’s appropriate to think about how ecology got started and the early ideas of ecological science, and there’s no better way of doing that than hearing about the formation of ecology through Darwin’s discoveries.” 

The talks will be followed by a reception, where Craige and Coleman will sign copies of their books, which will be available for purchase. 

Two related special exhibitions will be open for viewing before and after the lecture and discussion. 

“Celebrating 50 Years of Ecology at the University of Georgia,” on display in the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript gallery, traces the history of the UGA ecology program from the arrival of Eugene Odum as a lecturer in 1940 through today. Photographs, publications, maps and correspondence, along with the national and international medals, prizes and honors Odum garnered in his lifetime, are featured in the exhibit. A timeline charts the development of the Institute and its leadership over the decades. It remains on view through Oct. 14. 

A second exhibit, “Darwin and Odum: Earth-Shattering Science from the Remotest Place on Earth,” is on display only from 4:00-4:30 p.m. and from 5:45-7:00 p.m. on Sept. 14. It features Odum’s field notes and a selection of coral specimens he collected while conducting research on Eniwetok Atoll in 1954, as well as volumes from Porter’s library of antiquarian books on corals and corals reefs. Among these are a first edition copy of Darwin’s On the Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs from 1842, the only known copy with all its fold-out maps hand-colored, as well as one of only seven known copies of James D. Dana’s 1848 folio edition Atlas of Zoophytes. 

The celebration of Ecology’s 50/10 anniversary year will culminate on Jan. 12-14 with an alumni reunion and symposium on the past, present and future of ecology at the University of Georgia. Visit odum5010.ecology.uga.edu for more information, including a complete list of anniversary events. 

The Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia is committed to shaping the future of ecological inquiry and application to better understand our rapidly changing planet. Named for founder Eugene P. Odum, we are celebrating 50 years of innovative interdisciplinary research, public service, and educating the next generation of ecologists and citizens. For more information, see www.ecology.uga.edu.