It is rare that an individual makes major contributions in each essential component of academic life - teaching, research and service. Eugene Pleasants Odum (September 17, 1913-August 10, 2002) accomplished just that. Odum completed a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Illinois in 1939. Odum came to the University of Georgia in 1940 and obtained the initial grant from the Atomic Energy Commission in 1951 that established the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Odum was also the founder of the Sapelo Marine Biological Laboratory and the Institute of Ecology. Odum was recognized nationally and internationally as a pioneer of ecosystem ecology.
In 1970, Odum became the first faculty member at the University of Georgia to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He published a dozen books and more than 200 publications. Odum was the recipient of the highest honors in ecology. In 1975 he was awarded the Tyler Award, which is the world prize for environmental achievement. That same year the French government awarded Odum the Prix de l'Institut de la Vie. Then in 1987 Odum was awarded the Crafoord Prize, which is the ecology equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The latter two awards were shared with his brother, Howard T. Odum.
He was devoted to public communications that promoted ecological awareness. In addition to his reputation as a research ecologist, Odum also became a respected environmentalist during the decade of the environment and was quoted frequently in Time, Newsweek, and Life magazines (Barrett 2005).
Odum's work as an ecologist and environmentalist has seen him leave a legacy through his teaching, research and service. Through his estate Dr. Odum established the Eugene P. Odum Endowed Chair in Ecology (held by Odum's former student Dr. Gary W. Barrett), the Spring Hollow Endowment and the Eugene and William Odum Ecology Endowment. These endowments support numerous activities within the Odum School of Ecology, including the annual Odum Lecture, the Graduate Student Symposium, the Odum Endowed Chair and various other teaching, research and service activities.
"When the study of the household (ecology) and the management of the household (economics) can be merged, and when ethics can be extended to include environmental as well as human values, then we can be optimistic about the future of humankind. Accordingly, bringing together these three ‘E's' is the ultimate holism and the great challenge for our future." - Eugene P. Odum
To learn more about Dr. Odum here are a series of videos from an interview in 2000: