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Serving on national commissions


Serving on the Biology Council
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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I was also quite active for a considerable number of years in national activities. I served for many years on the review panels of the National Science Foundation. Then I served… I was a member of Paul Weiss's Biology Council. That was a division of the National Research Council. We met about once a month and that was a… even though it took time and meant having to travel down to Washington, at the same time this was a group of outstanding representatives of the different areas of biology discussing all sorts of biological problems, including also administrative biological problems. And we always had very stimulating and quite often very delightful conversations. So these Biology Council meetings down in Washington were important because also these were… practically all of them were leaders in their particular respective fields and so I… I learnt to… to know quite a few of the outstanding people in fields outside my own specialties in the field of biology.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: National Science Foundation, Biology Council, National Research Council, Washington, Paul Alfred Weiss

Duration: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008