Lincoln Brower named Fellow of the Entomological Society of America

Posted on August 28, 2017 by Staff Writer

Lincoln Brower on a research trip in Mexico circa 2006. Lincoln Brower on a research trip in Mexico circa 2006. Photo by Jenn Wiley ’06.

Lincoln Brower has been named one of 10 new Fellows of the Entomological Society of America by its governing board.

Election as a fellow of the society “acknowledges outstanding contributions to entomology in research, teaching, extension and outreach, administration, or the military,” according an announcement on the ESA website. This year’s Fellows will be recognized during Entomology 2017, the society’s annual meeting Nov. 5-8 in Denver.

Brower, a longtime research professor of biology at Sweet Briar, is well known internationally not only for his research on the chemical and physiological ecology of monarch butterflies, but as an ardent conservationist on their behalf.

Born in New Jersey in 1931, Brower received a B.S. in biology from Princeton University in 1953 and a Ph.D. in zoology from Yale University in 1957, working with Charles Remington. A Fulbright Fellowship allowed him to spend 1957 and 1958 in E.B. Ford’s ecological genetics lab at Oxford University before joining the biology department at Amherst College, where he rose from instructor to the Stone Professor of Biology.

In 1980, Brower moved to the University of Florida, from which he retired as Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in 1997. He was then appointed research professor at Sweet Briar, where his wife, Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Ecology, is on the faculty.

In total, Brower has authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific papers, edited two books and produced eight films. His early research on insect adaptive coloration led to collaborations with chemists and ecologists in exploring the chemical ecology of milkweeds, monarch butterflies and bird predators. His photographs of a blue jay vomiting after eating a monarch butterfly are classics.

When the winter location of eastern monarch butterflies was announced in 1976, Brower’s research pivoted to studying the extraordinary winter colonies and to the microclimatic protection provided by the forests. On his first visit in January 1977, Brower recognized that the colonies could be lost to deforestation, and his work expanded to include conservation of this endangered phenomenon.

He conducted field and laboratory research to understand the monarch’s habitat requirements, worked with conservation organizations and government agencies to design the monarch butterfly reserves, and encouraged the public to care about monarchs through innumerable public lectures and consulting for dozens of articles, books and documentaries. In 2015, Brower was a signatory on the petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to designate the monarch butterfly as a threatened species.

Brower’s awards include the E.O. Wilson Award of the Center for Biological Diversity, Reconocimiento a la Conservacion de la Naturaleza from the Mexican federal government, the Marsh Award of the Royal Entomological Society, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal from Yale, the Henry Bates Award of the Association for Tropical Lepidoptera, the Distinguished Animal Behaviorist Award of the Animal Behavior Society and the Linnaean Medal for Zoology.

He is a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and Explorers Club, an honorary life member of the Lepidopterists’ Society, and research associate of the Smithsonian Institution and the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera at the University of Florida.

Brower and his wife live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where a conservation easement protects rich deciduous forest and abundant wildlife, including many charismatic insects, on their mountain land.