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Gene Elden Likens (born January 6, 1935) is an American ecologist and a leading pioneer in the study of acid rain.

Likens obtained his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1962, and joined the faculty of Dartmouth College in 1961. His B.S. was obtained from Manchester College (North Manchester, IN). He was co-founder in 1963 of a group with Drs. F. Herbert Bormann, Robert S. Pierce and Noye M. Johnson working on the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.[1] The study immediately found that the rain was abnormally acidic, and the group made one of the first scientific studies linking acid rain to air pollution such as Sulphur Dioxide. The group also devised a range of highly influential long-term experiments on the ecosystem scale.

Likens was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1981. In 1983 he founded the Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES) in Millbrook, New York as part of the New York Botanical Garden. The IES became independent in 1993 with Likens as director and president. In 2007 Likens stepped down as director of the IES and returned to full-time research.

Likens was also elected as foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in 1994 and the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2000. He was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science in 2001.


  1. ^ "Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 2007-11-11.  


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