Gene E. Likens

College of Science and Mathematics Convocation Speaker

Scientist and ecologist Gene E. Likens is the founding director and president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and a pioneer in the discovery and study of acid rain in North America.

He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Manchester College, and a master’s degree and PhD in zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Likens’ research, which focuses on the ecology and biogeochemistry of forest and aquatic ecosystems, has shed light on critical links between ecosystem function and land-use practices and documented the link between the combustion of fossil fuels and an increase in the acidity of precipitation. His findings have influenced politicians and policy-makers, guided and motivated scientific studies, and increased public awareness of human-accelerated environmental change.

Likens has held positions at Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Rutgers University, Yale University, the State University of New York at Albany, and the University of Connecticut, and has served as president of both the Ecological Society of America and the American Institute of Biological Science.

Likens is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the National Medal of Science, America’s highest science honor.