Faculty contribute to Encyclopedia of Earth

  • Environmental authorsJohn Swaddle (left) of the biology department and Emmett Duffy of VIMS are among the contributors to the Encyclopedia of Earth. The online, peer-reviewed resource draws on the contributions of an international group of environmental scholars. Swaddle's entry on evolution will be featured during the week of Sept. 29-Oct. 3. In it, he explains the mechanism by which evolution occurs and points out that using the word "theory" in the context of evolution is a mischaracterization.

    Environmental authors

Faculty at the College of William and Mary are creating entries for the Encyclopedia of Earth, an electronic reference on the environment. It's a free, searchable web site with entries written and vetted by an international community of 1,000 scholars.

The Encyclopedia of Earth is a component of Earth Portal, which during the week of Sept. 29 will feature a lead article on evolution written by John Swaddle, associate professor of biology and director of William and Mary's interdisciplinary Environmental Science and Policy Program. Like other EOE entries, Swaddle's piece on evolution is written for an intelligent lay audience as well as for scholars, teachers and experts. The evolution article is timely, having a tie-in with a Charles Darwin anniversary.

"This should be a big year for evolution in general," Swaddle said, "leading up to the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species in February, 2009."

Emmett Duffy, the Loretta & Lewis Glucksman Professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, has written several entries and serves as a topic editor for dozens of headings on subjects ranging from aquatic annelids to trends in global marine biodiversity. Duffy also co-coordinates the growing collection of ecology articles.

"We see the Encyclopedia of Earth as Wikipedia with quality control," Duffy said. "It is on a fast track to becoming the premier source of online information about the environment."