UGA Libraries Logo

Interview with Gene Likens, March 21, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:02:05 - Background and early interests

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So anyone who knows you knows of your Midwestern roots and your early career as a baseball player, but what did lead you to an academic career as an ecologist?

Segment Synopsis: Likens talks about his early life, saying that he was originally a professional baseball player but decided to go graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He later went to fill an unexpected opening at Dartmouth College, where he was involved with the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study.

Keywords: Art Hasler; Carl Wilson; Cornell University; Herb Bormann; John Curtis; Kansas; Manchester College; Norman Arnold; Orie Locuks; Roy Foster; University of Indiana; William Ballard; biological science; botany; zoology

00:12:27 - Interest in ecosystem science

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, I was thinking thinking that the ecosystem science in Wisconsin as it was in those days would have been all aquatic, wouldn't it?

Segment Synopsis: Likens talks about a limnology course he took from Art Hasler at the University of Wisconsin, which piqued his interest in ecosystem science. He also discusses his work with Herb Bormann involving measuring stream water chemistry.

Keywords: Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Cornell University; Coweeta; Dartmouth College; Eugene Odum; John Eaton; geochemistry

00:24:13 - Interest in acid rain

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you know, I always thing of your passion for basic ecosystem science, but obviously acid rain came along.

Segment Synopsis: Likens talks about publishing a paper called "Acid Rain" in 1972 with Herb Bormann and Noe Johnson, and discusses the push-back from the coal and automobile industries about acid rain. He also discusses the role political cartoons played in giving the public a bad image of acid rain.

Keywords: Clean Air Act; Cornell University; Darthmouth College; ammonia; cap and trade program; climate change; dry deposition; plumes; white mountains

00:40:40 - Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, we are sitting here in your office at the Institute in Millbrook.

Segment Synopsis: Likens discusses leaving Cornell University to work at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. He also talks about the fact that Institute scientists increasingly have to generate more of their own salaries through funding.

Keywords: accounting systems; administrative duties; management; payroll

00:46:06 - Development of the field of ecology

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So presumably ecology has changed a lot.

Segment Synopsis: Likens discusses some of the biggest changes in ecology throughout his career, saying that field work has declined and that funding is more difficult to obtain. He talks about how new technologies and methods have changed applied ecology.

Keywords: ESA; Public Affairs Office; acid rain; climate change; natural history; stable isotopes; statistics; trophic structure

01:06:15 - Organizational change within ESA

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well I'd like to ask you about the Ecological Society of America.

Segment Synopsis: Likens discusses his presidency of the Ecological Society of America (1981-1982), and talks about how it has changed over the years, noting how it has growth, politicization, and bureaucratization. He concludes by saying that he has very fond memories of the ESA and has loved being an ecologist.

Keywords: AIBS; ASLO; American Geophysical Union; Baltimore; ESA annual banquet; IES; National Public Radio; Penn State; Portland; Washington office; subgroups