17 September 1943 |
|Institutions||University of Maryland|
|Alma mater||Johns Hopkins University|
|Notable awards||2007 Ilya Prigogine Medal|
Robert Edward Ulanowicz is an American theoretical ecologist and philosopher of Polish descent who is best known for his search for a unified theory of ecology. He was born September 17, 1943 in Baltimore, Maryland.
He served as Professor of Theoretical Ecology at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland until his retirement in 2008. Ulanowicz received both his BS and PhD in chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and 68, respectively.
Dr. Ulanowicz currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.
Ulanowicz uses techniques from information theory and thermodynamics to study the organization of flows of energy and nutrients within ecosystems. Although his ideas have been primarily applied in ecology, many of his concepts are abstract and have been applied to other areas in which flow networks arise, such as economics.
Though Ulanowicz began his career with substantial successes in modeling of ecological systems using differential equations, he soon reached the limits of this approach. Realizing that any ecosystem is a complex system, he decided to move away from what he saw as the inappropriate use of a reductionist approach, and instead began to work towards development of theoretical measures of the ecosystem as a whole, such as ascendency.
Ulanowicz has authored or co-authored over a hundred articles in theoretical ecology and related areas of philosophy, especially those dealing with autocatalysis and causality. He has authored three books to date.
- A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin, Templeton Foundation Press (2009) (ISBN 159947154X)
- Ecology: The Ascendant Perspective, Columbia University Press (1997) (ISBN 0231108281) - Written for a more general audience
- Growth and Development - Ecosystems phenomenology, Springer (1986) (ISBN 0387962654) - A more technical exposition of Ulanowicz's ideas
While living in Maryland, Ulanowicz took up a hobby of cultivating and casually breeding cold-hardy palm trees; he drew attention for a Windmill palm on Solomons Island that grew taller than the one-story building it was planted outside.
Ulanowicz was a featured speaker at the 2009 Ill STOQ International Conference entitled "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories," which discussed the impacts and effects of the publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.
- Profile: A Scientist for All Seasons Chesapeake Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3
- Erica Mitrano, "Palm gracing Solomons conjures a tropical breeze", Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, Oct. 25, 2006.
- ECOSUD 2007: Sixth International Conference on Ecosystems and Sustainable Development
- Stock Exchange of Visions: Robert E. Ulanowicz, Ecologist
- Robert E. Ulanowicz's Home Page
- Stock Exchange Of Visions: Visions of Robert E. Ulanowicz (Video Interviews)
- Alachua County Clerk of Courts