I was born 1925, in Croydon, on the southern outskirts of London. On my fifth birthday my family moved to a house in a country village in Surrey. I was immediately intrigued by all the wildlife in my new environment, and in time developed a passionate and lifelong interest in nature.
I graduated in Veterinary Science in London in 1947. From 1949 to 1965 I carried out research in immunology in Cambridge, New York, Paris, Copenhagen and Canberra. From 1965 until my retirement (1991) I turned my academic interest to environmental and social concerns, pioneering work in human ecology and biohistory at the Australian National University (ANU) and in UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. In the 1970s I initiated and directed the Hong Kong Human Ecology Program, which was the first comprehensive study of the ecology of a city (see Some Publications).
After retirement I established and worked with the Nature and Society Forum – a community-based organisation concerned with the wellbeing of humankind and the environment. I have authored and co-authored many books and articles on biohistory and urban ecology. In 1966 I was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 1990 Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, London. In 1998 I was awarded Membership of the Order of Australia (AM). At present I am Emeritus Professor in the Fenner School of Environment at the ANU.