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News from the Hilltop

March 24, 2014

Book by BSC biologist wins regional environmental writing award

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern professor Dr. R. Scot Duncan has won this year's Reed Environmental Writing Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center for his new book, Southern Wonder—Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity.Southern Wonder-Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity

The SELC, a Virginia-based nonprofit, bestows the Reed Award on two works each year that exemplify the best environmental writing in the South. This year's other award went to Duane W. Gang for a series of newspaper articles on coal ash and fracking in Tennessee. Each author will receive a $1,000 prize.

Reed Award contest judge and SELC Board Vice President Rick Montague called Southern Wonder "an amazing and eye-opening book, comprehensive enough to be a field guide as well as a doorway to the natural world." The award is named for SELC founding trustee Phil Reed, a talented attorney and committed environmental advocate who deeply believed in the power of writing to change hearts and minds.

Southern Wonder, which was released in November 2013 by the University of Alabama Press, takes readers on a journey through the diverse ecosystems of Alabama, a state that ranks fifth nationally in biodiversity. It has been hailed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and naturalist Edward O. Wilson as "one of the most important books ever written about Alabama ... a call to Alabama's people to treasure and protect the state's living heritage." Written for the layman with insightful prose and 132 beautiful color illustrations, the book ranges from the coastal dunes of the Gulf of Mexico to the Tennessee River Valley; interweaves ecology, climatology, evolution, and geology; and introduces species and ecosystems found only in Alabama.

SELC will present the awards at its annual Festival of the Book event on Saturday, March 22, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Dr. R. Scot Duncan is an associate professor of biology and urban environmental studies at Birmingham-Southern College. Though he has worked in Africa, Antarctica, and Latin America, he is currently studying endangered species and ecosystems in Alabama, including the Ketona dolomite glades, montane longleaf pine woodlands, and the watercress darter.

About Birmingham-Southern College:

Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,200 students from more than 30 states and 16 foreign countries. Learn more online at www.bsc.edu.