Faculty Spotlight: Dan Simberloff

“Alien Spaceships to Attack Earth in March 2013!”
Yes, this is a real headline. However, this is not quite what we are referring to when we mention invasions on Earth. While there is not actually an alien attack on our planet, Earth is being invaded—by progressive and invasive species.

Professor Daniel Simberloff, the Gore-Hunger Professor of Environmental Science in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has spent years researching areas of ecology, evolution, conservation biology, biogeography, and statistical ecology. Specifically, his research focuses on the threats imposed by invasive species, like kudzu.

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Dan Simberloff (photos by Jack Parker)

His research on biological invasions has established him as a world leader in this area of study, while his methods teach students and the community how to understand the world and preserve the environment. Simberloff is the co-editor of the new Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions, and he is also founder and director of the Institute for Biological Invasions here at the university.

Students and colleagues describe him as a “humble, caring mentor,” who has helped build UT’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department.

Simberloff reveals his humility in saying, “My scientific accomplishments all result from having always been surrounded by excellent graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and interactive colleagues.”

In 2012, Simberloff won the Premi Ramon Margalef Award for Ecology, an award presented annually by the Government of Catalonia, which recognizes people around the world who are distinguished in the field of ecological science.

Simberloff was also elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in research. He is the third faculty member in UT history to receive this honor and joins the ranks of elite foreign associates and US institutions previously inducted into the academy.

In previous years, he was named to the Nancy Gore-Hunger Chair of Excellence, established by former Vice President Al Gore, and was awarded the Eminent Ecologist Award, the most prestigious award an ecologist can win.

Simberloff has been at UT for nearly sixteen years and has helped highlight the university’s impact on the world.

He received his BA and PhD in biology from Harvard University.

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