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University of Minnesota
May 21, 2010
David Tilman ranks among the world's most prominent ecologists.
Photo by Tim Rummelhoff
The Heineken Prize recognizes David Tilman's seminal work in the science of species diversity
University of Minnesota ecologist David Tilman has won the 2010 Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Tilman was selected for his seminal findings, published in Science and Nature during the 1980s and 1990s, which showed that biodiversity is essential for stable and productive ecosystems and demonstrated the value of protecting endangered species. More recently, Tilman has applied his discoveries to sustainable farming practices for renewable energy, showing that biofuels made from diverse prairie grasses can offer environmental benefits over those made from food crops.
"If there were a Nobel Prize for environmental science, Tilman would be a likely choice," says Robert Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences. "He is at the top of his field. Nine previous winners of the Heineken Prize in medicine, chemistry and biophysics have gone on to win the Nobel."
Tilman is director of Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, a University of Minnesota field station, where he has conducted resource competition and biodiversity studies since the early 1980s. His grassland experiments, among the longest running in the world, provide a rich resource for ecology research.
The Institute for Scientific Information named him the most cited ecologist from 1990 to 2000 and from 1996 to 2006. In 2008 Tilman received the International Prize for Biology from the emperor of Japan.
The Heineken Prizes are bestowed biannually by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Tilman will receive his prize, which carries a cash award of $150,000, in September.