Eisner, Thomas

Eisner, Thomas

(1929–  ) entomologist; born in Berlin, Germany. As a child in Germany, he showed an early interest in what he termed "biophilia," the love of living creatures, and was always fascinated by insects and odors. When his Jewish father left Germany in 1933, Eisner emigrated with his family to Barcelona, Spain, then France, then Uruguay. He came to the U.S.A. in 1948, and was a research associate at Harvard (1955–57), where he worked with sociobiologist E. O. Wilson. Eisner joined Cornell (1957) where he made major contributions to studies of insect physiology, adaptation, and behavior, particularly web-making communication in spiders, and the spraying defenses of the bombardier beetle. He referred to insects as "master chemists," and was an authority on their pheromones and chemical ecology. In addition to being an accomplished photographer of insects and the author of five books and over 250 scientific articles, he was an advocate of human rights, an opponent of nuclear war, and an active environmentalist and conservationist.