Thomas Eisner, a world-renowned authority on animal behavior, chemical ecology and evolution,died on March 25 at his home in Ithaca NY at the age of 81. Eisner is widely regarded as the father of chemical ecology.
In nine books and on film, he chronicled his studies of insects and how they mate, trap their prey and fend off predators. His book "For Love of Insects" won the Best Science Book in the 2004 Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Louis Thomas Prize for Writing.
Eisner's passion for insects prompted him to draw from the fields of chemistry, biology, ecology, evolution, behavior, morphology and even engineering in his quest to understand insect physiology, adaptation and behavior.
He explored highly evolved processes and systems among insects, such as chemical defenses, that were previously unexplored. He referred to insects as "master chemists" and was an authority on their pheromones and chemical ecology.
In his career, Eisner made numerous discoveries of remarkable biological phenomena and science is eternally indebted to him.
Eisner earned the 1994 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States; the Committee on the National Medal of Science cited him for his "seminal contributions in the fields of insect behavior and chemical ecology and for his international efforts on biodiversity."
This text is an excerpt from an obituary written by Susan Lang, Cornell Chronicle.
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