Dean Crane Receives Prestigious
Biology Prize at Tokyo Ceremony
Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Dean Peter Crane, the International Prize for Biology laureate, is greeted by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, prior to the award ceremony at the Japan Academy headquarters in Tokyo.
Peter Crane, the Dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, was awarded the 2014 International Prize for Biology during a ceremony held in Tokyo on Dec. 1.
The prize was awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
Those attending the ceremony included their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan.
Over more than three decades, Crane’s work has integrated data from living plants with new discoveries from the paleontological record to provide critical insights into the early history of plants and how they shaped the modern biosphere.
“In paleontology we rely heavily on using the present to interpret the past,” Crane said during the ceremony. “Yet at the same time, the importance of contingency and extinction, both in ecology and evolution, reminds us that understanding the present also requires understanding history. The value of paleontology lies not simply in extrapolating the present back into the past, but in expanding knowledge, by illuminating ancient worlds that often differed in important ways from the world of today.
“Such perspectives, rooted in deep history, emphasize the grandeur of evolution over vast spans of geologic time. They also underline the need for enlightened environmental management in the face of rapid contemporary environmental change.
“In honoring how the past helps us understand the present The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science reminds us of our place in the world, and the value of humility as we together influence the future of our planet.”
Created in 1985, the International Prize for Biology commemorates the 60-year reign of Japanese Emperor Showa and his longtime devotion to biological research. The 30th anniversary of the award is dedicated to the field of Systematic Biology and Taxonomy.
Dean Crane is the second Yale recipient of the International Prize for Biology. Professor Nancy Ann Moran, the former William H. Fleming Professor of Biology in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, received the award in 2010.
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles posted prior to July 1, 2020, refer to the School's name at that time.