Environmental Scientists

Colborn, Theo

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Source: Rachel Carson-prisen, Norway.

Theo Colborn is an American scientist whose research on the environmental conditions of the Great Lakes in the late 1980s brought attention to a class of ubiquitous contaminants known as "endocrine disruptors," synthentic chemicals that mimic hormones and disrupt the normal operation of endocrine systems and other biological functions. She is perhaps best known as a co-author of the 1996 best-selling book, Our Stolen Future, that describes specific cases of how exposure to these chemicals impairs normal biological development and reproductive functions in people and wildlife. Since 2003, she has been President of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), an organization she founded to collect, organize, review, interpret and disseminate scientific research concerning endocrine disruptors and other toxic chemicals in the environment that cause harm to humans and wildlife.

Colborn received a bachelor's degree from the College of Pharmacy at Rutgers University in 1947, but concern about pollution in the Gunnison River near her home in Colorado prompted her to return to school more than 30 years later to earn a master's degree in freshwater ecology from Western State College of Colorado, followed by a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1985, she became a Congressional Fellow at the Office of Technology Assessment. She later was a Senior Fellow and then Senior Scientist and Director of the Wildlife and Contaminants Program at the World Wildlife Fund from 1993 until 2003. She is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

She is the author of numerous articles published in scientific journals as well as co-editor of a seminal scientific book published in 1992 titled Chemically-Induced Alterations in Sexual and Functional Development: The wildlife/human connection. That publication provided much of the research upon which Our Stolen Future, co-authored with Diane Dumanoski and J. Peterson Myers, is based.

Colborn has been the recipient of many awards from environmental and scientific organizations from around the world, including the Norwegian International Rachel Carson Prize (1999), the International Blue Planet Prize (2000), the Society of Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry, Rachel Carson Award (2003), the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Rachel Carson Award (2004), The Swedish Goteborg Prize for the Environment and Sustainability (2008), the TIME Global Environmental Heroes Award (2007), the National Council for Science and the Environment, Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), and the University of California San Francisco Medical School/Collaborative for Health and the Environment 2007 Summit Award: A Woman on the Forefront: Leadership and Integrity in Science (2007).

Further Reading
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
Our Stolen Future web site

Glossary

Citation

Barakatt, C. (2012). Colborn, Theo. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151304

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