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Interview with Orie Loucks, August 7, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Early motivations to pursue ecology / Undergraduate education

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral interview with Orie L. Loucks.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks talks about his childhood growing up in Ontario, Canada and his early interest in forestry because his father owned a timber forest. He talks about attending the University of Toronto to study forestry and mentions his assistantship to study pine trees on shoreline reservations.

Keywords: Angus Hills; Berkeley; Carl Atwood; Oregon State University; University of Minnesota; annual sportsman show; clear cutting; seeding; soil surveying; wilderness society

00:11:07 - Graduate school

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Partial Transcript: Well did got your master's degree then.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks says that after he got his master's degree he went to work for the Canadian Forestry Service. He later went to the University of Wisconsin to get his ph.D, where he wrote his thesis on the vegetation in North West New Brunswick which won the George Mercer award in 1964. Loucks later became a professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Keywords: Fredericton, New Brunswick; John Curtis; Nova Scotia; botany; meteorology; plant ecology; soil; sugar maple

00:20:39 - Career transition

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Partial Transcript: Alright, so that is very interesting. Of course, you didn't spend your entire career at Madison but you were there for quite a while.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks discusses some of the things that lead him to change his career path away from descriptive ecology toward applied ecology. One of these things was the publication of Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, about insect control practices that lead Loucks to get involved in banning DDT. He wrote a paper about DDT transport with several other authors, and wrote a chapter about DDT in an ecology textbook called Patient Earth.

Keywords: Dave Farkhurst; Department of Agriculture; department of conservation; environmental protection agency; leaves; mosquitoes; national science foundation; robins

00:32:32 - Working with Joan Hett

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Partial Transcript: My own theoretical interests was advanced also by the work of Joan Hett.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks discusses his time working with Joan Hett, a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin, studying the reproduction of hemlock trees. They wrote a paper on the age structure models of Boston Fir trees and Eastern Hemlock trees.

Keywords: Columbia University; Ontario; Trent University; Wisonconsin; climate lab; seedlings; seeds

00:38:37 - International Biological Program

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Partial Transcript: I see that this paper was a contribution of the eastern deciduous forest biome.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks discusses his involvement in the International Biological Program (IBP). He talks about getting congress to raise the budget of the National Science Foundation so they could study the watersheds of Lake George and Lake Wingra in Wisconsin and focus on the dynamic modeling of the flow between trophic levels.

Keywords: Europe; George Van Dyne; Joan Hett; biomass; geophysical; plant and animal ecology

00:52:11 - Holcomb Research Institute

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Partial Transcript: Well, it's becoming clear to me how it was a temptation for you to then move to the Holcomb Research Institute in Ohio.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks talks about leaving Wisconsin to become the Science Director of the Institute of Ecology (TIE),which was later disbanded because they were competing with large universities for money. He then became the director of the Holcomb Research Institute where he studied acid rain in forests and patch dynamics in prairies. Loucks also discusses his work with The Nature Conservancy to preserve natural areas.

Keywords: Dave Farkhurst; George Bush; Jimmy Carter; Joan Hett; John Curtis; Ohio Valley; Quetico; Ronald Reagan; Simon Levin; Steward Pickett; conservation easements; great lakes; long distance transport; nature conservancy; spring green prairie

01:10:46 - Paper with Jianguo Wu

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Partial Transcript: I want to wrap this up with what I think is the most important paper I've written.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks discusses working on a paper about hierarchical patch dynamics with a graduate student, Jianguo Wu. The paper was published in the Quarterly Review of Biology in 1995.

Keywords: Dan Buchman; Simon Levin; balance of nature; equilibrium point; gophers; inter-tidal zone

01:19:19 - Teaching at Miami University

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Partial Transcript: Well Orie, you then moved to Miami and I think you should very briefly talk about your motivation to get involved in the college of business there.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks talks about his motivations to move to Miami University in Ohio. He says that the new president of the Holcomb Research Institute didn't want him to have access to the Board of Governors meetings, and recalls that Miami had just created new positions for the Ohio Environmental Scholars. Loucks also talks about trying to create a new class at Miami that integrated science and business.

Keywords: Harry Barrett; economics; recruiting; textbook grants

01:31:09 - Involvement in the ESA

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Partial Transcript: Okay, now would you talk a little bit about the Ecological Society of America?

Segment Synopsis: Loucks discusses his involvement with the Ecological Society of America (ESA). He recalls attending his first meeting in 1964, when he won the George Mercer Award. Loucks says that he has not kept up with the new and more complex counsel of the ESA. He also talks about his son's involvement in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Keywords: University of Colorado; applied ecology; certification; committees; dorms; policy; vegetation

01:40:36 - Dealing with professional obstacles

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Partial Transcript: Well, we probably should wrap this up but I do wonder if there were any topics you would like to mention maybe we haven't covered.

Segment Synopsis: Loucks talks about how he dealt with some of the professional obstacles he faced during his career. He focuses on the pushback he received from the Electric Power Trade Association about his research on acid rain, recalling that the Association went so far as to publish articles in the New York Times about it.

Keywords: EPA; Gene Lickens; University of Wisconsin