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Paul Bigelow Sears

        Science | American Biologists

Sears, Paul Bigelow (1891-1990) was an American botanist, a scientist who studies plants. He was an authority on pollens, applied ecology, and the historical study of vegetation patterns. He was also an important popularizer of science.

Sears was born on Dec. 17, 1891, in Bucyrus, Ohio. He received a B.S. degree in zoology in 1913 and a B.A. degree in economics in 1914, both from Ohio Wesleyan University. In 1915, Sears earned an M.A. degree in botany from the University of Nebraska. He then became an instructor of botany at Ohio State University.

From 1917 through 1918, during World War I (1914–1918), Sears served in the U.S. Army.

From 1919 to 1927, Sears taught botany at the University of Nebraska. He received a Ph.D. degree in botany from the University of Chicago in 1922.

Sears served as professor and chair of the botany department at the University of Oklahoma in Norman from 1927 to 1938. He then returned to Ohio to assume the same responsibilities at Oberlin College in Oberlin. Sears wrote his first book, Deserts on the March, in 1935. Some of his other books include This Is Our World (1937) and Charles Darwin: The Naturalist as a Cultural Force (1950).

From 1950 until his mandatory retirement in June 1960, Sears assumed the post of professor and chairman of Yale University's new conservation program. From 1953 to 1955, he was also chairman of the botany department and the Yale Nature Preserve.

Sears died at the age of 98 on April 30, 1990, in Taos, New Mexico.