James T. Costa, Western Carolina University professor and director of Highlands Biological Station, is the recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Biodiversity Educator of the Year award bestowed by Discover Life in America.
The nonprofit organization helps run the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. ATBI has resulted in the discovery of more than 900 species new to science and more than 7,000 species never before recorded in the park.
The annual educator of the year award recognizes a person’s contributions to outreach and education in the study of biodiversity. Dan Pittillo, retired WCU professor of biology, nominated Costa for the award, citing his commitment to education and to research in areas such as the socialization of insects.
“As Costa pushes the knowledge frontier further, he is passionate about providing this information to everyone,” said Pittillo. “Working as the director of Highlands Biological Station, he continues to make the biodiversity of our very diverse region available to all that come into contact with the station.”
The award was presented to Costa at the ATBI Conference held in Gatlinburg, Tenn.