Richard Levins, American Ecologist, Died at 85


Richard “Dick” Levins was born on June 1, 1930, and died on January 19, 2016.

He was an ecologist, a population geneticist, biomathematician, mathematical ecologist, and philosopher of science.

He had researched diversity in human populations.

Most of his career was spent as a university professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a long-time political activist.

The ecologist was best known for his work on evolution and complexity in changing environments and on metapopulations.

His style and technique’ writing and speaking were greatly condensed.

He has composed written pieces on philosophical issues in biology and modelling.

One of his prominent chapters is “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology”.

Richard has been and influential writer to a number of contemporary philosophers of biology.

It has been said that Levins often boasted publicly that he was a ‘4th generation Marxist’ and often had said that the methodology in his Evolution in Changing Environments was based upon the introduction to Marx’s Grundrisse, the rough draft of Das Kapital.

Himself along with the evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin (1929–), has written a number of articles on methodology, philosophy, and social implications of biology.

These pieces were collected in The Dialectical Biologist.

The duo, in 2005 again published a second thematic collection of compositions titled Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture, and Health.

Also with Lewontin, together had co-authored a number of sardonic articles criticizing sociobiology, systems modeling in ecology, and other topics under the pseudonym Isadore Nabi.

Himself and others formed the Harvard Working Group on New and Resurgent Diseases, in the early 1990s,

The collaboration proved successfully when they discovered that new infections had sprung from changes in the environment, either natural or caused by humans (Wilson et al. 1994).

During his last two decades in his working field, Levins had concentrated on the application of ecology to agriculture, particularly in the economically less-well-developed nations of this planet.

He was married to wife Rosario, who died in 2011.

He has a daughter, Aurora, who moved in with her father in his Cambridge, Massachusetts home.

One of his grandchildren is Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist Manny Phesto.

Mr Levins won many awards, including just a few, the Edinburgh Medal in Science and Society, Honorary Doctorate in Environmental Science from the University of Havana, American Public Health Association’s 2007 Milton Terris Global Health Award: Lecture: “One Foot in, One Foot out

Richard Levins passed away at 85 yrs old in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 19. 2016.