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John G. Hildebrand

John Hildebrand was born and raised in Boston. He earned his A.B. degree in biology at Harvard University in 1964 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1969 at The Rockefeller University under the mentorship of Fritz Lipmann and Leonard Spector. As a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, he worked with Edward Kravitz in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. In 1970 he was appointed Instructor in that department and thereafter rose through the faculty ranks to Associate Professor. In 1980 he moved to Columbia University in New York City as Professor of Biological Sciences. An opportunity to develop a new research department at the University of Arizona attracted Hildebrand to Tucson. He was founding head of the Arizona Research Laboratories Division of Neurobiology (1985-2009) and then of the Department of Neuroscience after the Division became a Department in the College of Science (2009-2013). He also was co-founder (in 1986) of the Center for Insect Science and founding chairman (1986-97) of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and currently is Regents Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Entomology, and Molecular & Cellular Biology.

Hildebrand and his coworkers study the neurobiology and behavior of insects, with a principal focus on the neurobiology of the olfactory system and its roles in natural behavior as well as related areas of chemical and sensory ecology. This seeks and reveals mechanisms that are common to vertebrate and invertebrate nervous systems and at the same time contributes to knowledge that will help alleviate the harm done by insects that are predators of the human food supply or vectors of disease. He is author or co-author of more than 220 peer-reviewed research papers and reviews and editor of five books.

Hildebrand is past president of several scientific societies, including the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS), International Society of Chemical Ecology, and the International Society for Neuroethology; a former trustee of The Rockefeller University and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole; and a frequent consultant to federal agencies, private foundations, and companies. Among his strongest interests is education at all levels, and in that connection he served for many years as chairman of the Board of Neuroscience Schools of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) and as a member of the Training Advisory Committee of the APA/ANDP/NIH Diversity Program in Neuroscience. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, previously served on its Council, and currently (2014-18) is the Academy’s Foreign Secretary. He also is a member of the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences 'Leopoldina’; a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters; an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (UK), and a fellow of the AAAS, the Entomological Society of America, and the International Society for Neuroethology. Among his other honors are an Einstein Professorship in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Outstanding Service Award for Contributions to the Biological Sciences from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Silver Medal of the International Society of Chemical Ecology, the Founders Memorial Award of the Entomological Society of America, the Max Mozell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Chemical Senses from AChemS, the Max Planck Research Award and a Humboldt Research Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Wigglesworth Lecture and Medal Award from the Royal Entomological Society.

In parallel with his academic life, Hildebrand had a long and very rewarding second career in Boston and New York as a professional free-lance musician.

  • Frances Henry