Scientists and Educators

Biographical sketches of scientists and educators I knew (under construction)

Walter P. Cottam

Cottam( March 3, 1894 — December 23, 1988) Walter Cottam was an Eminent American ecologist (ESA 1960) and conservationist; earned PhD under H. C. Cowles at the University of Chicago and served as Chairman of the University of Utah Biology Department from 1932-1962. Revolutionary lecture/publication “Is Utah Sahara Bound?” in 1947 began a conflict with ranchers that led to improved land use throughout the western U. S. Died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at age 94 (More…).

Walter Cottam (Doc) served on my dissertation committee (PhD, University of Utah, 1980) and was my most reliable field adviser. We repeated photographs, collected plants, and studied vegetation change throughout the deserts of western Utah.

Robert H. Whittaker

Whittaker, Robert Harding 1920-1980(December 27, 1920 – October 20, 1980). Robert Whittaker was an Eminent American ecologist (ESA 1981) who “enlivened many fields within ecology, systematics and evolution with his insights. Perhaps his most significant contributions to ecology lie in the development of the theories and methods of gradient analysis. Through the verification of the individualistic hypothesis with field data from many regions, and the subsequent development and dissemination of methods for studying species distributions along continua, he helped replace the Clementsian paradigm with a Gleasonian one. His extensive field data on primary production, nutrient cycling patterns and species diversity established new standards for documentation in synecology and helped clarify the basis for site-to-site variation in these variables. Through his broad command of the ecological literature, his writings and his contact with ecologists throughout the world he fostered international understanding of the diversity of approaches to vegetation study” (Westman and Peet 1982. Vegetatio 48: 97-122) (More…).

Robert Whittaker wrote many interesting articles and an excellent textbook (Communities and Ecosystems 1975) that I practically memorized.  He was a stimulating lecturer, and was always ready to discuss dynamic ecology. My studies of vegetation ecology were a bit richer and brighter because of his work.