Frederick H. Bormann

Yale University

March 24, 1922 - June 7, 2012

Scientific Discipline: Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1973)

Frederick Bormann’s research in the White Mountains of New Hampshire shed light on the environmental issue of acid rain. He meticulously documented the effects of increasing acidity in the ecosystem, noting a reduction in forest growth and the deaths of aquatic organisms. Through further studies he was able to directly link the growing acidity with widespread air pollution. He is also known for his studies on deforestation. He found a range of unexpected chemical and physical effects from deforestation such as the release of nitrates into the drainage basin.

Bormann graduated with a BA from Rutgers University in 1948 and earned his MA and PhD from Duke University in 1950 and 1952. He taught botany at Dartmouth College until 1966 when he moved to Yale University as a professor of forest ecology. He became the Oastler professor of biology in 1969, remaining in that position until 1992 when he retired. Bormann’s work on acid rain influenced Congress during the writing of the Clean Air Act of 1990. In 1993 Bormann was awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for “bringing fundamental order to the science of ecology and for creating the premier model for ecosystem studies in the world.”

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