Biologist Edward O. Wilson-two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction-has been a leader of the biodiversity movement since the 1980s. Trained as an entomologist specializing in ant biology, Wilson has ranged from New Guinea and Sri Lanka to the Smithsonian Institution for his work. His groundbreaking Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975) was a controversial study that examined the biological basis of social behavior in all kinds of organisms, including vertebrates, with links to evolutionary biology. A hallmark of his later work has been an attempt to bridge the gap between science and the culture at large, as in Consilience: The Unity of Life (1998).
Artist Jennie Summerall posed Wilson in a setting reminiscent of the landscape on Lignum Vitae Key in Florida, which he helped preserve. Based on photographic images, the painting references Wilson's earlier studies on ant populations, while depicting him as he looks today.