April 2, 2008
Harold Mooney wins prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
By Louis Bergeron
Harold Mooney has been awarded the 2008 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his work in helping to transform ecology into a global discipline. The prize is awarded annually to individuals with world-class environmental accomplishments to their credit.
Mooney, the Paul S. Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology, will share the prize, which consists of a $200,000 cash award and gold medals, with James Galloway, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia.
“It’s spectacular,” said Robert Simoni, chair of the Stanford Department of Biology, in response to Mooney’s selection. “He is just one of our most stellar colleagues, and he is the sort of guy who’s going to change the world.”
Simoni added: “He is a plant ecologist by training, but he has taken a very global view; he has served on every commission known to humans on saving the planet.”
In announcing Mooney’s selection, the Tyler Prize committee cited several areas of his work as influencing their choice: “Mooney provided key evidence for the theory of convergent evolution, which holds that different species in widely separated ecosystems, but with similar climates, all tend to evolve toward similar endpoints.” The announcement also mentioned his work developing an economic approach to plant evolution: “He showed that just as with people, capital allocation in plants involves trade-offs between competing demands, such as growing roots or adding leaves.”
Previous winners of the Tyler Prize include anthropologist Jane Goodall; C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States; and Stanford faculty Anne and Paul Ehrlich, in 1998, and Perry McCarty, in 1992.
The Tyler Prize is the latest in a string of recent major awards for Mooney. In February, he was named a co-recipient of the Award for Scientific Research in Ecology and Conservation Biology by the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) Foundation in Spain. That award included a prize of 500,000 euros (approximately $733,000) that he shared with his co-winner.
In November, he received the 2007 Ramón Margalef Prize for Ecology and Environmental Sciences from the Autonomous Government of Catalonia in Spain. Mooney was recognized as a pioneer in the study of plant physiological ecology and for his international leadership in assessing the impact of climate change and the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. The award, which honors an exceptional scientific career or discovery in the field of ecology or other environmental science, was presented in October in Barcelona and included a prize of 100,000 euros (approximately $145,000).
At 2 p.m. Thursday, April 10, Mooney and Galloway will deliver public lectures at the Davidson Conference Center of the University of Southern California, which administers the prize.
Established by the late John and Alice Tyler in 1973, the Tyler Prize is an international award honoring significant scientific achievements in all disciplines of environmental study and environmental protection.