When outspoken ecologist Dr. Barry Commoner was in high school in working class Brooklyn, he was so shy that he was sent to a speech correction class. That might have been the last time he had trouble being heard.
With money earned from odd jobs, he put himself through Columbia by age 20, followed by Harvard, a Ph.D. in cellular biology and a career in academia. After The Atomic Energy Commission met his famously meticulous research on nuclear residue with indifference, he became an environmentalist and outspoken public figure. He landed a Time Magazine cover in 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, and was deemed the “The Paul Revere of Ecology.”
Read the rest of the details in his New York Times obituary .
Our favorite detail? For all of his prestige, Commoner lived what he taught. He re-used envelopes, even when sending materials to the New York Times and, believing that ironing shirts was a waste of electricity, he lived with the wrinkles.