Photo of Simon Asher Levin

Simon Asher Levin

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For international leadership in environmental science, straddling ecology and applied mathematics, to promote conservation; for his impact on a generation of environmental scientists; and for his critical contributions to ecology, environmental economics, epidemiology, applied mathematics, and evolution.

Simon Levin on problems of scale and ecology

There’s risk involved in everything. An investor takes a gamble on his portfolio in the same way a plant takes a chance with reproduction, relying on the wind to scatter its seeds.

“We can learn many things about addressing global problems from natural systems,” Simon Levin said in 2014. “For example, they all represent the balance we have to achieve between exploration and exploitation.”

Levin takes biology and finance, combining data and empirical models to analyze what makes them each vulnerable to collapse.

It’s all mathematics – but not the kind that happens at a desk in academia.

Levin’s work helps us understand the world, from threats of antibiotic resistant viruses to the best way to preserve natural resources.

“Sustainability is important because I care about my children. I care about my grandchildren,” he said. “I want to maintain the kind of world that’s at least as good as what we have today.”