The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation was launched at a meeting organized in 2005 by Dr. Jay M. Short, who invited Edward O. Wilson, Neil Patterson, Charles J. Smith, and other colleagues and friends to assist in forming a nonprofit organization that would use education, technology, and business strategies to further the preservation of biodiversity. The emerging mission of the Foundation had been so eloquently described and pioneered by Edward O. Wilson through his years of research, speaking, and writing that the group asked Ed Wilson to permit the new Foundation to be named after him. With Wilson’s consent, the organization has anchored its planning and efforts on the guiding vision of decades of his work.
The inauguration of the foundation was celebrated with a two-day BioBlitz in New York City’s Central Park on June 22–23, 2006, in collaboration with the Explorer’s Club, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Boston Museum of Natural Science. In a BioBlitz, volunteers race to collect and identify as many species as possible, bringing their finds to experts to be identified and counted. The foundation has since supported numerous BioBlitzes, including Microbial BioBlitzes, invented by founder Jay Short, and during which several hundred novel species have been identified using genomic technologies.
The education mission of the foundation was advanced with support for the production of Darwin’s Natural Heir (2008), directed by David Dugan and produced by Neil Patterson. Narrated by Harrison Ford, the film details the life and work of Professor Wilson, and has aired on NOVA, the BBC, and in many museums.
The foundation’s digital textbook project, E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, was conceived during Neil Patterson’s term as second president of the Wilson Foundation, and launched with the generous support of the Life Technologies Foundation. Seeking to combine artistry and technology in a pioneering new format, Patterson recruited a team of uniquely qualified individuals with the goal of changing how people think about textbooks. Commitments to fund the completion of Life on Earth were finalized in 2011, and work is ongoing led by current president and Life on Earth project director Morgan Ryan.
In 2012, the foundation is launching a new-media education project in collaboration with the Gregory C. Carr Foundation and the Gorongosa Restoration Project.With support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, we are using the technological and production strength assembled for the Life on Earth project to support ecotourism in Goronogsa. Our media will target mobile devices like the iPad with an e-documentary on the scientific and community issues being addressed in Gorongosa; a virtual ecotour of the park; and trip-planning capability to contribute to the model of sustainable, ecotourism-driven management of the great Gorongosa preserve.
Every few minutes as the helicopter flies presents a completely different landscape in Goronogosa.
We thank those individuals who contributed their ideas, talents, and time to help establish the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. Their names are listed below in alphabetical order:
- Carolyn Anderson, president, Capia IP, LLC
- Michael Arciero, esquire, former Licensing Attorney, Diversa Corporation
- Robert Bidigare, PhD, professor, University of Hawaii
- Steve Briggs, PhD, professor of Biology, UCSD
- Leif P. Christoffersen, former biodiversity manager, Diversa Corporation
- Tim Friend, former USA Today science reporter
- Michael McClelland, PhD, professor, Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center
- Neil Patterson, former chairman and president of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation; CEO, Neil Patterson Productions
- Eddy Rubin, MD, Joint Genome Institute
- Jay M. Short, PhD, founding chairman and president of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation; CEO of BioAtla and Ciris Energy; former CEO, Diversa
- Charles J. Smith, founder, Knowledge Factor Inc., former president, Digital Stock Corporation
- Michael Vella, esquire, Morrison and Foerster, LLP
- Edward O. Wilson, PhD, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University