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AAAS Fellow Stephen Hubbell Awarded International Prize for Biology

AAAS Fellow Dr. Stephen Hubbell was awarded the 2016 International Prize for Biology by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.  The committee chose to hand out the 32nd edition of the award to honor an individual who promoted the “Biology of Biodiversity.”

Stephen Hubbell


AAAS Fellow Dr. Stephen Hubbell will be presented The International Prize for Biology on November 22 and 23 in Tokyo. | Stuart Wolpert, UCLA

The award has been handed out each year since 1985 as a tribute to Japanese Emperor Showa and his continued support to biological research. Along with a certificate, medal and an Imperial Gift (a silver vase bearing the imperial crest), the award also comes with a prize of 10-million yen (roughly $97,800).

“The award of the International Prize for Biology is a wonderful and unexpected honor,” said the award-winning ecologist. “Whatever my achievements, they could not have happened without the combined efforts of a community of creative, hard-working and dedicated scientific colleagues, students, field workers and technical support staff, as well as the administrators, granting agencies and private donors who made the science possible." 

Dr. Hubbell was elected an AAAS Fellow in 1981 and has a long career of success. A Distinguished Professor at UCLA, Dr. Hubbell is the author of the 2001 book The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, which challenged current theory in ecology for the evolutionary origin and ecological maintenance of biodiversity in biotic communities.

The son of scientists–his mother a statistician and fisheries biologist, his father an entomologist–Hubbell grew up surrounded by science and remembers exploring the tropics with his father as a child. The exposure to natural history and the biology of the tropical world helped guide his career later in life.

It was his work testing the theory in tree communities that not only made a major theoretical contribution to understanding the mechanisms by which diversity is generated and maintained in biotic communities, but also opened up new directions and powerful new tools in empirical biodiversity research.

“For nearly 40 years and to this day, my scientific grail and passion have been the origin and maintenance of extraordinarily high tree species richness in tropical forests,” said Dr. Hubbell. “In seeking answers, I explored both theoretical and empirical approaches, including neutral theory in ecology.

Dr. Hubbell will be presented this distinguished award at a commemorative symposium for the International Prize for Biology on November 22 and 23 in Tokyo.

[Associated image: WanderingSolesPhotography/Flickr CC BY 2.0. ]