an e-newsletter for students and alumni of saint michael's biology department

Biologist Bernd Heinrich Awarded an Honorary Degree
Degree conferred by Saint Michael's during Commencement 2008




The text that follows is the citation written by Buff Lindau, director of public relations, and read at the Commencement 2008 ceremony by Valerie Banschbach, Biology Department Chair

At Commencement 2008, Saint Michael’s College honored our neighbor from the University of Vermont, emeritus professor of biology, Bernd Heinrich, with an honorary degree. Dr. Heinrich is renowned throughout the world as a scientist and writer. Bearer of the highest academic achievements, Bernd Heinrich’s resume of academic publications runs to 13 single-spaced pages. At the same time, his books for general readers—championing the vibrancy and importance of wild life to the health of our planet—have earned him a wide devoted following.

Professor Heinrich has been an assistant professor at UCLA, an associate professor and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a professor at UVM from 1980 to the present. He was a Guggenheim, a Harvard and a von Humboldt Fellow, and has received three honorary doctorates. Atop those achievements, his excellence as a runner—a runner of 62-mile ultra-marathons—has been recognized with his induction into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in 1996 and into the Maine Sportsmen’s Hall of Fame in 2000.

But perhaps most important is Professor Heinrich’s contribution to the scientific understanding of the connection between observing nature in the field and in the laboratory. His profound attention to the natural world has expanded in-depth knowledge of the behavior of a wide array of natural life including habits of ravens, weasels, antelope, caterpillars, beetles, butterflies, wasps, nuthatches, honeybees, bumblebees, dragonflies, and more. He and his research associates have expanded the literature to the benefit of all biologists and all those interested in the wondrous ways and importance of these life forms. His special scientific focus has particularly expanded understanding of bee colonies, the social organization of ravens, and general understanding of cognition.

Professor Heinrich has at the same time expanded the knowledge and appreciation of nature for the generalist with an array of acclaimed books for the scientist and non-scientist alike. Some of these titles include Ravens in Winter, The Hot Blood Insects: Strategies and Mechanisms of Insect Thermoregulation; The Thermal Warriors: Strategies of Insect Survival; The Trees in My Forest; Racing The Antelope; The Winter World; The Ravens’ Behavioral Association with Wolves.

His In a Patch of Fireweed won the L.L. Winship Book Award in 1984; his An Owl in the House won the Burroughs Award in 1991; his A Year in the Maine Woods won the Rutstrom Authorship Award for Conservation and Environmental Writing in 1996, and Mind of the Raven won the John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing in 2002.

On top of this astonishing range of achievements, Professor Heinrich had two exhibitions in 2005 of his art work, “The Naturalist as Artist: The Artist as Naturalist,” at the Fleming Museum in Burlington and the L.C. Bates Museum in Fairfield, Maine.

For your love of nature and your tireless commitment to understanding the mysteries and wonders of the natural world, for your achievements as a scientist, author, runner, artist and citizen, Saint Michel’s College is proud and honored to award you this degree.

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