WCU biologist wins international award

Highlands Biological Station Director James Costa recently traveled to London to receive the silver Alfred Russel Wallace medal recognizing his contributions to the study of the 19th-century naturalist.

Wallace, best known for co-discovering the principle of natural selection with Charles Darwin, is recognized by science historians as one of the most important scientists of the modern period.

Costa is the third recipient of the silver Wallace medal, the Wallace Memorial Fund’s highest award. Costa’s contributions to Wallace scholarship —including two books published by Harvard University Press and numerous scholarly and popular articles about Wallace’s life, thought and relationship to Darwin — were cited as reasons for his winning the award.

In addition to directing the Highlands Biological Station since 2005, Costa has been a professor of biology at Western Carolina University since 1996. His latest book is Darwin’s Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory.

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