Biologist Lawrence Gilbert Named 2012 Distinguished Texas Scientist by Texas Academy of Science

March 5, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — Lawrence Gilbert, professor of integrative biology and director of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named the 2012 Distinguished Texas Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science.

He received recognition at the academy's annual meeting March 1-3.

Larry Gilbert

Professor Larry Gilbert, the 2012 Distinguished Texas Scientist.

Gilbert has studied the co-evolution of insects and plants, population dynamics, chemical and behavioral ecology, and evolution of novel wing patterns in mimetic butterflies. He is widely known for his research involving tropical Heliconius butterflies and their host plants, passion vines (genus Passiflora), and rainforest cucumber vines, Psiguria, a system he maintains in greenhouses at the university.

Gilbert and his research group are also responsible for introducing phorid flies to reduce the pest status of invasive fire ants. He is director of the Texas Fire Ant Lab, which continues to broaden its search for biologically sustainable solutions to the fire ant problem.

He has advised more than 40 Ph.Ds, many of whom were exposed to tropical systems in Corcovado Park, Costa Rica, where Gilbert developed a research field station in 1986. His former graduate students have pursued diverse studies of ecology, evolution and behavior in a variety of sites including Texas, Mexico, South America, Africa and India.

Born and raised in Texas, Gilbert received his bachelor's in biology in 1966 from The University of Texas at Austin. He returned to the university in 1971 after getting his doctor's degree at Stanford University. He has been director of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory since 1980. The laboratory is a unique property that has enabled important long-term field studies near campus and provides unique learning opportunities for students of the university.

Gilbert has taught countless students in courses such as field ecology, rainforest research, population biology and Plan II biology. He was chairman of the Department of Zoology from 1990 to 1999 and was a member of the Texas Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy from 2000 to 2002.

Other University of Texas at Austin faculty that have been named Texas Distinguished Scientist include paleontologist Ernest Lundelius, ecologist Eric Pianka, chemist Norm Hackerman, geologist Virgil Barnes, botanist Richard Starr and physicist Ilya Prigogine.

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For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 512-232-0104.

3 Comments to "Biologist Lawrence Gilbert Named 2012 Distinguished Texas Scientist by Texas Academy of Science"

1.  Joanne Wells said on March 7, 2012

Congratulations on the well-deserved accolade: is your Passiflora nursery open to the public--or by invitation?

2.  Alma Solis said on March 8, 2012


3.  Joanne Olsen said on May 6, 2012

Congratulations for being recognized for your good work. I'm sure the students and colleagues with whom you work understand how you have distinguished yourself ! Your life long focus on your area of study is inspiring.