UMass Amherst Biologist Lynn Margulis Awarded Honorary Degree in Spain

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts biologist Lynn Margulis has received an honorary doctor of science degree from Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. Margulis now holds a total of seven honorary degrees.

Margulis was honored during ceremonies held at the Madrid university earlier this month. In conjunction with the awarding of her degree, Margulis participated in a two-day international symposium titled "Origins of Species and Evolutionary Changes."

Margulis, who is a Distinguished University Professor in the department of geosciences at UMass, has received numerous other awards and honors in addition to her honorary degrees. She was recently elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. In April she was presented with the Desert Research Institute’s 11th Nevada Medal for outstanding scientific achievement.

Margulis is internationally recognized for her research on the evolution of eukaryotic cells, or those that have a nucleus. She is the leading proponent of the idea that symbiogenesis, the merger of previously independent organisms, is of great importance to evolutionary change. Margulis is also a supporter of the Gaia theory, the idea that the Earth’s temperature and chemical composition are actively regulated as a consequence of the metabolism, growth, death, and evolution of interacting organisms.

She is the author or co-author of hundreds of publications, including several popular books written with her son Dorion Sagan.

Margulis has been a member of the UMass faculty since 1988.