In A Flash

LSU biology professor wins medal for her research

By: - July 2, 2021 12:03 pm
LSU Clock Tower

LSU’s War Memorial Tower looms over portions of the Baton Rouge campus. (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue/Louisiana Illuminator)

LSU faculty member Mary Jane West-Eberhard was selected as a 2021 recipient of the Linnean Medal, the university announced late last month. 

The Linnean Medal is given annually by The Linnean Society of London, the world’s oldest active society dedicated to natural history. 

West-Eberhard was awarded the medal for her work with tropical social wasps, spending decades conducting field research on the behaviors, phenotypes and social behavior of the insects. Using her findings, West-Eberhard was able to create new theories on developmental plasticity and genetics, publishing them in her 2003 book “Developmental Plasticity and Evolution.” 

West-Eberhard is a research associate in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences, along with her husband, Bill Eberhard. 

“We have many valued colleagues in biology at LSU and feel especially at home in the LSU Museum of Natural Science, because we are both evolutionary biologists and the LSU Museum of Natural Science is world-famous for its collections and the work of its staff and students in the areas of systematics and natural history,” West-Eberhard said.

West-Eberhard is also a staff scientist emeritus at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, among other positions. 

She is one of seven women to have been awarded the medal in Zoology since the medal was instituted in 1888.


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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

Rachel Mipro is a contributing reporter to the Illuminator. She has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.