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Interview with Arthur Cooper, March 9, 2015

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:37 - Early life / Academic background

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Partial Transcript: So we're going to start with a few questions about Art's background.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about growing up in Washington D.C, where his father was a geologist at the Smithsonian Museum and his mother took him on walks to look at cardinal flowers. He went to Colgate University where he earned a degree in both physical education and natural sciences, and then he stayed at Colgate for another two years to study for a masters degree in Botany. He discusses how he went to the University of Michigan to study for his Ph.D and Stanley Cain became his adviser. He recounts the process of having to cut down his dissertation length before its publication. He talks about accepting a position in the North Carolina State Botany Department, where he was one of the only ecologists and where he had a lot of freedom.

Keywords: Ecological Monographs; Ann Arbor, Michigan; B.W Wells; Duke Hospital; Duke University; E.S George Reserve; Ecological Society of America; Hugh Loveland; Lucy Braun; WWII; Warren Stanley; fossils; microclimate; plant ecology

00:16:43 - North Carolina State University / State government position

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Partial Transcript: So there you were at NC State, the lone ecologist.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about being involved with conservation issues while working at North Carolina State University (NCSU), which lead to Governor Robert Scott asking him to be the deputy director of the Department of Conservation and Development. Cooper discusses some of the work he did in that position.

Keywords: Bill Woodhouse; Dave Adams; North Carolina State Mining Commission; department of natural and economic resources; physiologists; salt marshes

00:27:37 - B.W. Wells / Department of Forestry at NCSU

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Partial Transcript: I did want to ask you one other thing that came to mind, and this goes back to your days before going downtown to be part of state government, when you were in the botany department.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper briefly discusses his relationship with B.W. Wells, his predecessor in the Botany Department at NCSU, describing Wells as being a very opinionated and interesting person. He also talks about leaving state government to become a professor in the Forestry Department at NCSU, where he soon became the department head. He also discusses the 1976 National Forest Management Act.

Keywords: Ecological Monographs; Jimmy Carter; U.S Forest Service; natural resource policy and administration; secretary of agriculture

00:36:49 - Involvement in ESA

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Partial Transcript: I was going to ask you about how you became involved in the Ecological Society.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his involvement in ESA, saying that he became a member after his grandmother gave him a membership as a Christmas present. He soon became the botanical editor of Ecological Monographs. He talks about what he did in that role, recalling how the journals became more professional after they hired more paid editors.

Keywords: Alton Lindsey; Dwight Billings; Lamont Cole; Lee Miler; plagiarism; publication office

00:45:53 - ESA Washington Office

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Partial Transcript: So we're really kind of moving into a theme that addresses the final question in the set we have been assigned, and that is what do you recall about the early years of ESA and how has it changed?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the establishment of ESA's Washington Office, which was set up to aid in great involvement of the ESA in policy making. He comments on this being one of the ESA's major accomplishments.

Keywords: Gene Likens; Hal Mooney; Institute of Ecology; activists; natural resource management; politics

00:52:58 - Changes in ecology discipline

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Partial Transcript: Art, we've been doing this for almost an hour.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about how the discipline of ecology has changed over the years, saying that it has become more quantitative and that it has grown dramatically. He compares it when he first started in the field of ecology in the 1950s, saying that many people did not even know what ecology was.

Keywords: EPA; Gene Likens; atomic energy commission; botany, Bob Whittaker

01:00:02 - The Institute of Ecology (TIE)

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Partial Transcript: Well I know we're running short on time, I thought we could conclude if you have a couple of minutes, to just say something about TIE.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his involvement with the Institute of Ecology, saying that it failed because the leadership was more focused on politics rather than science. Cooper recalls the role he played in settling the TIE's debts when it disbanded.

Keywords: Jo Doherty; National Science Foundation; North Carolina State University; coastal management