Dr. Rene Dubos: French-American Microbiologist

A Plowboy Interview with Dr. Rene Dubos, winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for his book "So Human an Animal," and a dynamic leader in the fight to save the environment.

| November/December 1970

Dr. Rene Dubos, winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, first gained international recognition over twenty years ago when he demonstrated the feasibility of obtaining germ-fighting drugs from microbes. A native of France, Dr. Dubos has lived in the United States since the age of 24 and is currently a dynamic leader in the fight to save the environment. Dr. Dubos is a professor at The Rockefeller University in New York City and this interview was conducted in his office there by Allen Richards. 

"We behave often as if we were the last generation to inhabit the earth, " reads the poster in Dr. Rene Dubos' office at Rockefeller University in New York City. The optimism that we may change such behavior is felt as a vital force when entering the office. 

Dr. Dubos, last year's Pulitzer Prize winner for his book, "So Human an Animal" (which shows that environment determines what people become), is one of the few ecologists today who chooses to emphasize that there are ways to salvage the already-polluted world Unlike his colleagues, Barry Commoner and Paul Ehrlich, Dr. Dubos refuses to frighten people by projecting ecological disasters. Instead, he tries to relate what has been done and what we can do to correct the environmental trespasses.  

Most recently, Dr. Dubos has been concerned with an ecological success in the Jamaica Bay area near New York City's Kennedy Airport. There, what once was a dumping ground for city garbage has been miraculously transformed into a beautifully landscaped sanctuary for birds.  

Last month, however, a controversy arose over plans for extending a runway of Kennedy Airport into the reclaimed portion of the bay to alleviate congested air traffic. This would surely destroy the area once again. Dr. Dubos publicly took a strong position against the extension, and the decision has been stalled and made uncertain.  

The following interview with Dr. Dubos contains ideas and examples that should prove helpful in combating pollution in your own area. For more of this particular brand of inspiration, check your local TV listings. Dr. Dubos will be making many appearances on national television during the coming year.  

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