Dr. Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship by the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Previous recipients of this fellowship have included 125 Nobel laureates, members of all the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and other internationally recognized honors.
Sanderson was chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants and was awarded his fellowship in the field of Geography & Environmental Studies. He is one of 184 fellows selected in 2021.
Based at the WCS headquarters at the Bronx Zoo, Sanderson has been with WCS since 1998. He has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers, including as lead author of the 2018 landmark study, “From Bottleneck to Breakthrough: Urbanization and the Future of Biodiversity Conservation,” which asserts that the enormous trends toward population stabilization, poverty alleviation, and urbanization are rewriting the future of biodiversity conservation in the 21st century, offering new hope for the world’s wildlife and wild places.
During the 12-month fellowship, Sanderson will focus on writing an atlas and gazetteer describing the indigenous landscape of New York City. The city’s lands and waters are naturally diverse and productive; once a wild place, full of wildlife, and home to indigenous peoples who lived here for some 8000 years before European colonization. Moreover, thanks to environmental protection and conservation efforts — the city is in the process of rewilding, with new species and more wildlife observed each year. This new volume, to be published by Abrams in 2023, is intended as a complement to Sanderson’s earlier, New York Times best-selling book, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City (Abrams 2009) and represents the culmination of more than 20 years of research. The atlas will cover all five boroughs of New York City and all five WCS parks; the city’s “sixth borough,” the New York Seascape; and serve as a testament to nature in the places where more than 8.5 million New Yorkers live and work.
Additional work by Sanderson includes a web map and site (since rebranded welikia.org), an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, and publication in 2013 of Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs. Through the years, he has been the focus of extensive press coverage, including a profile in The New Yorker and a cover of National Geographic Magazine. Sanderson holds a Ph.D. in ecology, with emphasis in ecosystem and landscape ecology, from the University of California, Davis.
The Guggenheim Fellowship was established in 1925 by former U.S. Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife in memory of their son, John Simon, who died in 1922 at the age of 17. The foundation has sought from the inception of this program to “add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding.” For more information on the 2021 Fellows, please visit the Foundation’s website at www.gf.org.