Edward O. Wilson
Professor, Harvard University
01:21

E.O. Wilson on the Encyclopedia of Life

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Prof. E.O. Wilson talks about the scope of the massive project to document every living organism.

Edward O. Wilson

Edward Osborne Wilson is an American biologist (Myrmecology, a branch of entomology), researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist (consilience, biophilia), and naturalist (conservationism).  Wilson is known for his career as a scientist, his advocacy for environmentalism, and his secular humanist ideas concerned with religious and ethical matters.

A Harvard professor for four decades, he has written twenty books, won two Pulitzer prizes, and discovered hundreds of new species. Considered to be one of the world's greatest living scientists, Dr. Wilson is often called "the father of biodiversity," (a word that he coined). He is the Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus in Entomology for the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.

Transcript

Edward O. Wilson: I don’t follow the day to day activities out of the Smithsonian and then we have a lot of activities going on at Harvard at the present time.  But it’s hard to judge how many people are employed full-time or part-time.  But the encyclopedia project, we anticipate, we’ll be able to draw down about $30 million from grants that are mainly from the MacArthur. 

But looking ahead a bit, I would say maybe, [it’s in] around figure I’d say about 100 people are full-time or a large part of part-time and I would expect that to expand as funding becomes available and we’ll really get on to the logarithmic stage, you know, of doing the mapping of the world.  But I would expect that probably, eventually, a couple of thousands.  It will be a big science project, but I don’t think it will compare in any way in dollars spent to most of our major space program.  It probably would be comparable to what was spent for the human genome project.

Recorded on: December 4, 2008


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