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David Tilman was awarded the 2010 Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

U of M professor David Tilman wins top international ecology prize

Media Note: For a high-resolution photo of Tilman, contact Jeff Falk at

Contacts: Peggy Rinard, College of Biological Sciences,, (612) 624-0774
Jeff Falk, University News Service,, (612) 626-1720

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/14/2010) —David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology in the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences, has been awarded the 2010 Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Tilman was selected for his seminal findings, published in Science and Nature during the 1980s and 1990s, which showed that biodiversity is essential for stable and productive ecosystems and demonstrated the value of protecting endangered species. More recently, Tilman has applied his discoveries to sustainable farming practices for renewable energy, showing that biofuels made from diverse prairie grasses can offer environment benefits over those made from food crops.

“If there were a Nobel Prize for environmental science, Tilman would be a likely choice,” says Robert Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences. “He is at the top of his field. Nine previous winners of the Heineken prize in medicine, chemistry and biophysics have gone on to win the Nobel.”

Tilman is director of Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, a University of Minnesota field station, where he has conducted resource competition and biodiversity studies since the early 1980s. His grassland experiments, among the longest running in the world, provide a rich resource for ecology research.

Tilman joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1976 after receiving his doctorate at the University of Michigan. Within a few years, he gained federal funding for his research at Cedar Creek, which became part of a national network of federally funded Long-Term Ecology Research (LTER) sites. The Institute for Scientific Information named him the most cited ecologist in the world for two decades, 1990-2000 and 1996-2006. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and holds a University McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Ecology. In 2008, Tilman received the International Prize for Biology from the Emperor of Japan.

The Dr. A.H. Heineken and Dr. H.P. Heineken Prizes, named in honor of Alfred Heineken, former Chairman of Heineken Holdings, and Henry Pierre Heineken, son of founder Gerard Adriaan Heineken, are a series of awards bestowed by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

The Heineken Prizes will be presented in September 2010 during a meeting of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Each prize carries a cash award of $150,000.

Tags: College of Biological Sciences

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