Published: April 13, 2006

Founder of Zero Population Growth to speak at Michigan State’s advanced degree ceremony

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Paul Ehrlich, an eminent ecologist, environmental scientist and conservation biologist known for his pioneering research on global overpopulation and loss of natural resources, will address candidates for advanced degrees at Michigan State University Friday, May 5.

The ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, One Birch Road.

Ehrlich, one of the founders of the group “Zero Population Growth,” rocked the world in 1968 with publication of his best-seller, “The Population Bomb,” and predictions of worldwide famines between 1970 and 1985 because of overpopulation.

Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford University and president of the Center for Conservation Biology, also will receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the ceremony.

Author of the 1968 best-selling book “The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich is among the world’s scientific leaders who set the direction for ecological science and conservation biology at local, national and global levels, according to Jack Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and University Distinguished Professor in fisheries and wildlife.

“Paul Ehrlich has made a huge difference in the way we think about important environmental issues,” said Liu, who spent his 2001-02 sabbatical working with Ehrlich and co-wrote several papers with him, including a cover story article in the journal Nature. “His impact on the scientific community, in public policy and in educating the general public has been exceptionally profound.”

Liu cites Ehrlich’s work in ecological science and population studies as pioneering, and notes that Ehrlich is a well respected, world class scientist who is a master at effectively communicating environmental science issues to the general public. He has spoken on topics from butterflies of North America to birth control, and evolution to the economics of ecology.

“He is very articulate, very straightforward. Rarely can people translate science to a general audience so effectively and so powerfully,” said Liu.

Ehrlich was a mentor of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows Program, which provides advanced leadership and communication training for environmental scientists. The program’s goals also include improving the flow of accurate, credible scientific information to policy makers and the general public on critical issues of the environment, such as pollution, global climate change and endangered species.

Included among his many awards are the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which is given in lieu of a Nobel Prize in fields where the Nobel is not awarded, the John Muir Award of the Sierra Club, the Gold Medal Award of the World Wildlife Fund International, the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the Eminent Ecologist Award by the Ecological Society of America.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas. He joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1959.

Ehrlich is no stranger to MSU: Two years ago he served as the McPherson Professor for the Understanding of Science. In that capacity he presented a public lecture, gave guest lectures to undergraduates, and took part in seminars and an environmental workshop at the law school.


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 15 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.