The Odyssey of a Woman Field Scientist: A Story of Passion, Persistence, and Patience

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Xlibris Corporation, Feb 22, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 539 pages
Here, Jean Langenheim presents her odyssey as a woman field scientist, who crossed boundaries of botany, geology, and chemistry in doing ecological studies. The book includes almost two hundred photographs and maps and uses a unique timeline as context for her story in relation to relevant historical events, significant changes in the status of women, and milestones in ecology from the 1920s to the present. Her research spans five continents and ranges from arctic-alpine to tropical environments. It includes many adventures (such as a forced plane landing in Amazonia and working in the midst of a coup dtat in Colombia) and interactions with diverse cultures, from Alaska Eskimo to Ghanain family life. She tells the story of a rich life of learning and discovery, through difficult and good times, which she has shared with her husband and later with her students, colleagues, and many friends many around the world.


Anyone who reads this rich and wonderfully interesting memoir will be inspired by what Jean Langenheim has accomplished scientifically and personally during her long and distinguished career at the interface of multiple scientific fields. This is more than a personal memoir by a leading scientist. It is a deeply insightful reflection on how major scientific disciplines have developed over the past half century and how the culture of scientific research itself has changed. John Thompson, Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolution, University of California, Santa Cruz (quoted in UCSC press release )

The title of this good read is truly apropos---it is an odyssey of the mind as well as life of a self-confessed adventurous woman, someone always open to the next chapter in an ever-changing life, lived during a period of significant social and technological changes. Theres a solid dose of real scientific research and discovery, tempered by the authors vivid descriptions of her travels, of the wonders of the natural world, and of the cultures she encounters in some amazing places she finds herself. Provocatively, you may recognize and view elements of your own life in ways you never thought about before. Susan Martin, retired researcher US Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University.

I liked very much your life metaphor about weaving threads in your life tapestry. It was delightful to read how those threads were constructed and woven. Your life has been very rich, impacting and inspiring many people with your thoughts and action. Francisco Espinosa-Garcia, Professor, National University of Mexico Center for Ecosystem Research, Morelia, Mexico.

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About the author (2010)

Jean H. Langenheim is Professor Emeritus in Biology and Research Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She obtained her PhD at the University of Minnesota and held research positions at the University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana, and Harvard University before going to UCSC. She has published over 130 scientific papers, co-authored Botany: Plant Biology and Its Relation to Human Affairs and written a definitive reference, Plant Resins. As a relatively early woman leader in the field sciences—she was elected the first woman president of the Association for Tropical Biology, and of the International Society of Chemical Ecologists as well as the Second woman president in the Ecological Society of America and the Society for Economic Botany.

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