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Moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts


The state of American ornithology - the AOU
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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I was very unhappy about the state of American ornithology and I was very active in getting the younger people involved and the university people involved in the… in the American Ornithologists’ Union. And it was quite successful on the whole, and eventually I was also… I participated in the 50th anniversary of the American Ornithologists’ Union in New York in 1933. And then again, I was president of the… I forget now, what… what we celebrated when I had the… when I was president. Later on, I was elected President of the International Ornithological Congresses, and as such had to preside over and organize the congress that took place at… at Cornell University in Ithaca in 1962. And… after that, on… on the whole, I became so involved in matters like evolution and other things that I more or less withdrew from active participation in the affairs of the… American ornithologists. And I decided, by that time, I was getting to be in my 60s, let the younger people take over and run the AOU.

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: American Ornithologists’ Union, 1933, New York, International Ornithological Congress, 1962, Cornell University, Ithaca

Duration: 1 minute, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008