Our Founder

George M. Woodwell, Ph.D.

Woods Hole Research Center
149 Woods Hole Road
Falmouth, MA 02540-1644


Ph.D. - Duke University

A.M. - Duke University

A.B. - Dartmouth College

Professional Experience

  • June 2005 - May 2012: Director Emeritus, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center
  • 1985 - 2005: President and Director, Woods Hole Research Center
  • 1975 - 1985: Deputy Director, Assistant Director for Education, Distinguished Scientist, Marine Biological laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, Massachusetts Founder and Director, Ecosystems Center (MBL)
  • 1969 - 1975: Lecturer, Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Science
  • 1961 - 1975: Assistant Ecologist, Senior Ecologist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Biology Department
  • 1957 - 1961: Assistant Professor of Botany, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Maine, Orono

Research Interests

Dr. Woodwell's research has been on the structure and function of natural communities and their role as segments of the biosphere. He has worked extensively in forests and estuaries in North America and has made well-known studies of the ecological effects of ionizing radiation and the circulation and effects of pesticides and other toxins. For many years he has studied the biotic interactions associated with the warming of the earth.

Selected publications

Dr. Woodwell has published more than 300 papers in ecology and has contributed articles to Science, Scientific American, BioScience, Ecology and the Journal of Ecology, among many. He has written and edited books on the effects of nuclear war, the global carbon cycle, biotic impoverishment, and satellite imagery used in measuring the area of forests globally.

Woodwell, G.M. 2008. A new environmentalism: conservation and the core of governmental purpose. In Foundations of Environmental Sustainability, ed. L.R. Rockwood, R.E. Stewart, and T. Dietz, 415-422. Oxford University Press, New York.

Woodwell, G.M. 2006. New Orleans: Only the beginning? WorldWatch September/October:34-35.

Woodwell, G.M. 2002. On Purpose in Science, Conservation and Government: The Functional Integrity of the Earth Is at Issue not Biodiversity. Ambio 31(5):432–436.

Woodwell, G.M. 2002. The functional integrity of normally forested landscapes: A proposal for an index of environmental capital. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99(21):13600-13605.

Woodwell, G.M., F.T. Mackenzie, R.A. Houghton, M.J. Apps, E. Gorham, and E.A. Davidson. 1995. Will the warming feed the warming? In Biotic Feedbacks in the Global Climatic System, ed. G.M. Woodwell and F.T Mackenzie, 393-411. Oxford University Press, New York.

Woodwell, G.M. 1989. The warming of industrialized middle latitudes 1985-2050: Causes and consequences. Climatic Change 15:31-50.

Woodwell, G.M. 1985. Energy enough to cleave the earth. BioScience 35(9):584.

Ehrlich, P.R., J. Harte; M.A. Harwell, P.H. Raven, C. Sagan, G.M. Woodwell, et al. 1983. Long-term biological consequences of nuclear war. Science 222(4630): 1293-1300.

Woodwell, G.M., and R.A. Houghton. 1980. The Flax Pond ecosystem study: Exchanges of CO2 between a salt marsh and the atmosphere. Ecology 61(6):1434-1445.

Woodwell, G.M., R.H. Whittaker, and R.A. Houghton. 1975. Nutrient concentrations in plants in the Brookhaven oak-pine forest. Ecology 56(2):318-332.

Woodwell, G.M., and R.H. Whittaker. 1968. Effects of chronic gamma irradiation on plant communities. Quarterly Review of Biology 43(1):42-55.

Woodwell, G.M., Wurster, C.F., and P.A. Isaacson. 1967. DDT residues in an East Coast estuary: A case of biological concentration of a persistent insecticide. Science 156(3776):821-824

Woodwell, G.M. 1967. Toxic substances and ecological cycles. Scientific American 216(3):24-31.

Woodwell, G.M., and F.T Martin. 1964. Persistence of DDT in soils of heavily sprayed forest stands. Science 145:481-483.

Woodwell, G.M. 1963. The ecological effects of radiation. Scientific American 208(6):40-49

Woodwell, G.M. 1962. Effects of ionizing radiation on terrestrial ecosystems. Science 138:572-577.

Achievements and Awards

  • President of the Ecological Society of America, 1977-78
  • Founding trustee and member of the Board of Trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Founding trustee and honorary member of the Board of Trustees of the Environmental Defense Fund
  • Founding trustee of the World Resources Institute
  • Board member (1970-84) and Chair (1980-84) of the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund
  • Chair of the 1982 Conference on the Long-Term Worldwide Biological Consequences of Nuclear War
  • Former Chair of the Ruth Mott Fund
  • Currently serves on the advisory board of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Board member, Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia
  • Board member of the World Media Foundation
  • Member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Recipient of the 1996 Heinz Environmental Prize
  • Recipient of the John H. Chafee Excellence in Environmental Affairs Award of 2000
  • Recipient of the Volvo Environment Prize of 2001

Honorary Degrees

  • Williams College, 1977
  • Duke University, 1977
  • Miami University, 1984
  • Carleton College, 1988
  • Muhlenberg College, 1990
  • Duke University, 1994
  • Dartmouth College, 1996
  • University of Bonn, 2014
  • University of Connecticut, 2014 
George M. Woodwell

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