Robert Ulanowicz bigraphy, stories - American philosopher

Robert Ulanowicz : biography

September 17, 1943 -

Robert Edward Ulanowicz is an American theoretical ecologist and philosopher of Polish descent who is best known for his search for a unified theory of ecology. He was born September 17, 1943 in Baltimore, Maryland.

He served as Professor of Theoretical Ecology at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Maryland until his retirement in 2008. 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.


Ulanowicz was named the recipient of the 2007 Ilya Prigogine Medal for outstanding research in ecological systems. He participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.

Ulanowicz was a featured speaker at the 2009 Ill STOQ International Conference entitled "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories," which discussed the impacts and effects of the publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.


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 three books to date. Chesapeake Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3

  • A Third Window: Natural Life Beyond Newton and Darwin, Templeton Foundation Press (2009) (ISBN 159947154X)
  • 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


While living in Maryland, Ulanowicz took up a hobby of cultivating and casually breeding cold-hardy palm trees; he drew attention for a Windmill palm on Solomons Island that grew taller than the one-story building it was planted outside.


Ulanowicz uses techniques from information theory and thermodynamics to study the organization of 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.

Though Ulanowicz began his career with substantial successes in modeling of ecological systems using differential equations, he soon reached 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.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine