Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Patrick Principle

We gave a talk on our research today, obviously very much as a work-in-progress. It was clear during the question period that at least some people had not understood from our talk that Ruth Patrick was a very eminent scientist. They hadn't heard of her, but then I'm not sure how many historians of science who haven't read in the history of ecology would know even the biggest names of 20th century ecology, such as Eugene Odum. The Patrick Principle hasn't caught on as a general term. I think I was too modest (a matter of female style?) and should have done more to brag on Patrick's accomplishments. She wasn't someone who went after publicity; that is part of why she worked so well with industry. But I wonder how much even our audience assumed that because Ruth Patrick was a woman she wasn't that important. What I've added to the talk for the next time I give it is that she was one of the top five ecologists of the mid-20th century.

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