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William Sargent

William Sargent, relative of the painter John Singer Sargent and son of a former governor of Massachusetts, was primed early for a career in politics, but since boyhood he was far more interested in science than in traditional forms of public service. Nonetheless, at Harvard University he declared himself a government major-a plan that gave way the day he had lunch at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, where huge plaster casts of dinosaur tracks and the smell of formaldehyde triggered in the freshman his inborn love of nature. Sargent immediately switched from government to biology. As a science major in the 1960's, Sargent enjoyed the instruction and guidance of such luminaries as E. O. Wilson, James Watson, Jane Goodall, Louis Leakey, and Stephen Jay Gould, all pioneers in their respective fields. 

As a sophomore, Sargent joined a crew of scientists and sailors on a six-month cruise, collecting plankton off the coasts of South America, Africa, and the Baltic region. The voyage whetted Sargent's taste for travel and sharpened his eye to the diversity of the natural world. Since then, and for more than thirty years, his subjects have ranged from horseshoe crabs on Cape Cod to Rhesus monkeys off Puerto Rico to the intimate ecology of the Massachusetts marsh where he lives. Pursuing the biological and natural sciences as a journalist, author, and filmmaker, Sargent has remained firm in his principal quest: to make the natural world accessible to all.

William Sargent is a consultant for the NOVA Science Series and has written eight books about science and the environment, including Just Seconds from the Ocean (UPNE, 2008); The House on Ipswich Marsh (UPNE, 2005); Storm Surge (UPNE, 2004); Sea Level Rising (Schifferbooks, 2004); Crab Wars: A Tale of Horseshoe Crabs, Bioterrorism, and Human Health (UPNE, 2002); A Year in the Notch: Exploring the Natural History of the White Mountains (UPNE, 2001); The Year of the Crab: Marine Animals in Modern Medicine (1988). His Shallow Waters: A Year on Cape Cod's Pleasant Bay (1981) received the Boston Globe Winship award for the best book about New England and was the basis for a NOVA film, The Sea Behind the Dunes, selected by the National Audubon Society as the best natural history film of the year.

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