Earlier this week, Thomas Eisner – Cornell University professor of chemical ecology, author of “For Love of Insects,” and a true craftsman in his field of study – passed away at age 81.
Dr. Eisner is broadly recognized in the scientific community for advancing our understanding of insects and their ecological significance. He discovered that in addition to sounds, colored markings and elaborate dances, insects communicate through chemical signals.
In his work, he often pushed beyond the discoveries of well known biologists such as Charles Darwin. In his study of the Bombardier Beetle, for example, Dr. Eisner found that it produced its own form of boiling hot rocket fuel by combining two separately stored chemicals, which the beetle shot out from its abdomen as a defense mechanism.
Scientific achievements aside, here’s a fun fact about Dr. Eisner that should be taken to heart by college applicants who’ve been rejected by their school of choice…in his office the professor displayed the rejection letter Cornell had sent many years earlier, denying him admission as an undergraduate student.