UMass Amherst Biologist Margulis Receives Honorary Degree from Union College

AMHERST, Mass. - Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, was recently awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. Roger Hull, Union president, conferred the degree during Founders Day ceremonies at the college Feb. 22. Margulis delivered the keynote address at the event titled, "Slanted Truths and the Wisdom of the Biosphere."

A biologist of international reknown, Margulis received the 1999 National Medal of Science. She was recently named a recipient of the 2001 Commonwealth Award, presented by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for outstanding contributions to the arts, humanities, and sciences. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has also been elected to the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. She holds numerous other honorary degrees and has received many other scientific awards and prizes for her work.

Margulis is widely known for her research on the evolution of eukaryotic cells – cells that have a nucleus. She is a leading proponent of the idea that the merger of previously independent organisms (a process called "symbiogenesis") is of great importance to evolutionary change. In addition, she is an energetic popularizer of science and spokesperson for environmental issues, and has written many books on a wide range of scientific topics.

Reading from the citation for her honorary degree, Hull told Margulis, "As impressive as your scientific achievements are, we pay special tribute to your extraordinary abilities as a teacher and communicator of science to the public."

Margulis joined the University faculty in 1988.