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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

‘Hero of the Earth’ to speak at URI

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

URI’s Landscape Architecture Lecture Series, March 23

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 7, 2006 -- John Todd, a pioneer in the field of ecological design and engineering who was named a “Hero of the Earth” by Time magazine, will speak at the University of Rhode Island on March 23 as part of the spring Community Planning and Landscape Architecture Lecture Series.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in Weaver Auditorium at the Coastal Institute on URI’s Kingston campus. It is free and open to the public.

Todd, a research professor and distinguished lecturer at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources, will address “Ecology and the Transformation of Society.”

“I am going to discuss nature's wisdom and how it can be applied to the transformation of society in a post petroleum era,” Todd said. “I will describe and give examples of eco-machines that educate, transform wastes into new products, generate fuels, restore damaged environments, grow foods and transform architecture. I will also discuss the concept of ecological industrial parks for urban renewal and conclude that it is possible to build a society in harmony with the natural world as the petroleum era wanes.”

Often described as a “visionary biologist,” Todd is the founder and president of Ocean Arks International, a non-profit research and education organization, and the principal of John Todd Ecological Design Inc., a design and engineering consulting firm. His groundbreaking ideas and projects often make use of alternative materials and technologies while looking to nature for inspiration. Much of his work has been devoted to food production and wastewater processing.

Todd was named one of the 20th century’s top 35 inventors for his development of ecological engines – which he calls “living machines”-- for the treatment of wastes, food production, fuel generation, and the restoration of damaged aquatic environments. Among the many awards he has received are the Lindbergh Award for technological innovation on behalf of the environment (1998), the Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1996), the Daimler/Chrysler Award for design (1994), the Teddy Roosevelt Award for Conservation (1990), and a United Nations award for contributions to the global environment (1990).

Todd earned degrees in agriculture and tropical medicine from McGill University and in fisheries and ethology from the University of Michigan, and he has received honorary doctorates in both science and engineering. He is the author of more than 200 scientific and popular articles, as well as seven books, the latest of which is entitled From Eco-cities to Living Machines: Ecology as the Basis for Design.

The URI Community Planning and Landscape Architecture series is co-sponsored by the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association. Additionally, Todd’s lecture is also sponsored by the URI College of Engineering, the Department of Natural Resources Science, the URI Honors Program, and the Visiting Scholars Committee. For more information about the series, call the URI Department of Community Planning and Landscape Architecture at 874-2983 or e-mail Professor Will Green at