The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation was conceived in 2005 by Dr. Jay M. Short, Neil Patterson, and Charles J. Smith who invited colleagues and friends to help form a nonprofit organization around the ideas of Edward O. Wilson 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 subsequently conceived and launched with the generous assistance of foundation supporters. Seeking to combine artistry and technology in a pioneering new format, the foundation recruited a team of uniquely qualified individuals, led by project director Morgan Ryan, with the goal of changing how people think about textbooks. E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth was made available for free download from iTunes on June 30, 2014 and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
Every few minutes as the helicopter flies presents a completely different landscape in Gorongosa.
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