The First Okazaki Biology Conference: The Biology of Extinction

The First Okazaki Biology Conference: "The Biology of Extinction"

It was with great sadness that I learned this evening of the passing of Dr. Stephen Schneider, Nobel Laureate, IPCC author, Stanford University professor, and much more. Many of you will no doubt read biographical pieces over the next few days, so I won't do that here. I just wish to say something personal on this blog. I met Stephen several years ago at a week-long conference on extinction, held in Okazaki, Japan. Sitting with about 70 other scientists in a room, for 5 days, discussion extinction, is an enlightening if not depression experience. Stephen was one of the closing speakers of the week, and of course spoke on the topic of climate change. After I returned from that meeting, I re-focused much of my work, in fact I changed it. Previously I studied extinction mostly from a paleontological and mostly academic viewpoint. I now take it as a personal responsibility, and as an applied science. Stephen Schneider had that influence on me.

Stephen was by all accounts a great scientist, a gifted communicator, and a seemingly tireless worker for what he believed in. He once flew an overnight flight from London, where he was attending UN meetings, to give a lecture to teachers in the Academy's Bioforum series. I never knew him well enough to say this to him, but he was a great influence on me in the short time that I knew him. We could all honour him by ensuring that his work and efforts to address climate change bear fruit.

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