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Howard T. Odum Wetlands Research Endowment

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Howard T. Odum

This fund was established in 1996 by Howard T. Odum to support wetlands-related research.

Odum was born on September 1, 1924, in Chapel Hill, NC. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a doctoral degree in philosophy at Yale in 1951. Odum joined the U.S. Air Force in 1943 and was a meteorology officer in Puerto Rico and the Panama Canal Zone during WWII.

Odum began his career at the University of Florida in 1953 as an assistant professor. He was also a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1966-70 before he joined the faculty at UF. There, he served as a professor of environmental engineering and was known for his analyses of complex systems involving ecology, energy and economics. He also developed the “net energy” theory and wrote on a concept he invented called “emergy.”

In 1976, Odum and his brother, Eugene Odum, received the Prize Institute de la Vie in Paris and in 1987 they were awarded the Crafoord Prize in Biosciences from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science for pioneering research on ecosystems. The award was presented to the brothers by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The prize is awarded to researchers in fields not covered by the Nobel Prize.

During his career, Odum was able to work with Jacques Cousteau, studying endangered species, native cultures and the development of appropriate agriculture. Odum founded the Center for Wetlands, of which he was the director, and the Center for Environmental Policy at UF. He pioneered ecosystems research and helped integrate ecology and economics. His research also led to the formation of many new fields of science, including systems ecology, ecological economics and ecological engineering.

Odum wrote more than 300 scientific papers and authored 15 books. In 2001, he published his book, “A Prosperous Way Down,” which he wrote with his wife, Elisabeth C. Odum. He also published a revised edition of his book originally printed in the 70s, “Environment, Power and Society,” in 2007.

Odum passed away at the age of 78 on September 11, 2002, in Gainesville, FL.

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