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Encyclopedia > Robert Ulanowicz

Robert E. Ulanowicz (b. September 17, 1943 in Baltimore) is a theoretical ecologist and philosopher who is best known for his search for a "unified theory of ecology". He is Professor of Theoretical Ecology at the University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. Ulanowicz received both his BS and PhD in chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and 68, respectively. Dr. Ulanowicz currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.* Flag Seal Nickname: Monument City, Charm City, Mob Town, B-more Motto: Get In On It (formerly The City That Reads and The Greatest City in America; BELIEVE is not the official motto but rather a specific campaign) Location Location of Baltimore in Maryland Coordinates , Government Country State County United... Theoretical ecology refers to several intellectual traditions. ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... The University of Maryland, College Park (also known as UM, UMD, or UMCP) is a public university located in the city of College Park, in Prince Georges County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., in the United States. ... Chemical engineers design, construct and operate plants Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science (e. ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ...



Ulanowicz uses techniques from information theory and thermodynamics in order to study the organization of the flows of energy and nutrients within ecosystems. Although his ideas have been primarily applied in ecology, many of his concepts are abstract and have been applied to other areas in which flow networks arise, such as economics. Not to be confused with information technology, information science, or informatics. ... Thermodynamics (from the Greek θερμη, therme, meaning heat and δυναμις, dynamis, meaning power) is a branch of physics that studies the effects of changes in temperature, pressure, and volume on physical systems at the macroscopic scale by analyzing the collective motion of their particles using statistics. ... In graph theory, a flow network is a directed graph where each edge has a capacity and each edge receives a flow. ... Face-to-face trading interactions on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. ...

Although Ulanowicz initially began his career with some substantial successes in modeling of ecological systems using differential equations, he soon began to reach the limits of this approach. Realizing that any ecosystem is a Complex system, he decided to move away from what he saw as the inappropriate use of a reductionist approach, and instead began to work towards development of theoretical measures of the ecosystem as a whole, such as ascendency. There are many definitions of complexity, therefore many natural, artificial and abstract objects or networks can be considered to be complex systems, and their study (complexity science) is highly interdisciplinary. ...

Works & Recognition

Ulanowicz has authored or co-authored over a hundred articles in theoretical ecology and related areas of philosophy, especially those dealing with autocatalysis and causality. He has authored two books and is working on a third.[1] A single chemical reaction is said to have undergone autocatalysis, or be autocatalytic, if the reaction product is itself the catalyst for that reaction. ... Causality or causation denotes the relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the consequence (result) of the first. ...

  • Ecology: The Ascendant Perspective, Columbia University Press (1997) (ISBN: 0231108281) - Written for a more general audience
  • Growth and Development - Ecosystems phenomenology, Springer (1986) (ISBN: 0387962654) - A more technical exposition of Ulanowicz's ideas

Ulanowicz was named the recipient of the 2007 Ilya Prigogine Medal for outstanding research in ecological systems.[2] He participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.[3] Ilya Prigogine (January 25, 1917 – May 28, 2003) was a Belgian physicist and chemist noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility. ... The Stock Exchange of Visions is a project initiated in 2006 by Fabrica, Benettons research center. ...


  1. ^ Profile: A Scientist for All Seasons Chesapeake Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3
  2. ^ ECOSUD 2007: Sixth International Conference on Ecosystems and Sustainable Development
  3. ^ Stock Exchange of Visions: Robert E. Ulanowicz, Ecologist

External links

  • Robert E. Ulanowicz's Home Page
  • Stock Exchange Of Visions: Visions of Robert E. Ulanowicz (Video Interviews)
  • Alachua County Clerk of Courts



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