Henry Horn, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, emeritus, a scholar and fervent naturalist for whom Princeton’s campus and the surrounding areas provided a rich biosphere for study, died suddenly March 14 at Princeton. He was 77.
Horn joined the Princeton faculty in 1966 amid a wave of interest in evolution and ecology in the then-Department of Biology.
In 1991, he led the University into a new era of interdisciplinary environmental research as founding director of the Program in Environmental Studies. He transferred to emeritus status in 2011.
“Henry Horn was one of the stalwart pillars of the department,” said Daniel Rubenstein, the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and director of the Program in Environmental Studies. “He had an original mind and was so caring. He saw patterns in the natural world that others often overlooked, and he had a unique ability to identify why they came to be and how they worked. He was so generous and genuine in his encouragement of students and colleagues and provided personal and intellectual glues that helped hold the department together. He will be sorely missed.”
Simon Levin, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, said Horn was “a brilliant scientist who continued to add to the intellectual life of the department. He also was a wonderful human being. His principal impact was on the students, the culture, and the cultivation of the climate of good collegiality and good mentorship.”
Horn was a mentor to generations of students.
A common theme in Horn’s work was a combination of geometry in conception, mechanical inventiveness in measurement, and “muddy boots” fieldwork in execution, noted an entry in the Princeton emeritus booklet upon Horn’s retirement.
Horn had a lasting interest in the growth of trees, in particular, how they got their shape and their branching patterns. Part of his tree work was published in The Adaptive Geometry of Trees in 1971.
Horn also studied the wind dispersal of seeds and forest succession, and he had a longtime fascination with butterfly behavior.
Horn was born in Philadelphia on November 12, 1941, the son of Catherine Stainken and Henry E. Horn, a Lutheran pastor. His family moved to Virginia and Georgia, eventually settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he attended Cambridge High and Latin School.
He completed his A.B. at Harvard University in 1962 and his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1966. His Ph.D. thesis was a pioneering study on the adaptive nature of the social behavior of blackbirds.
Over the years, Horn’s research took him across the continental United States and Canada, and to locations across the globe including Central and South America, Austria, Britain, France, and Japan.
But it was the areas in and around Princeton that most-often served as a muse and a setting for his fieldwork and teaching.
He was an expert on the ecology of the Princeton campus and the Institute Woods surrounding the Institute for Advanced Study.
An editorial consultant to Princeton University Press beginning in 1967, Horn was co-editor of Monographs in Population Biology, a continuing series of books intended to examine important aspects of the ecology of plants and animals. He served on the Press’ editorial board from 1993 to 1998 and was editorial board chair in 1998.
Horn was a Bullard Fellow for Harvard Forest at Harvard University and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as a permanent principal investigator at the University of Arizona-Tucson.
He led frequent workshops for K-12 school teachers and students, and in 2002 he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for Commitment to Exemplary Science Education (K-12) from the Princeton Chapter of Sigma Xi.
In 2011, he received the Jack Gleeson Environmental Award from the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, and in 2013 he was honored with the Environmental Leadership Award by the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; a daughter, Jennifer, of St. Paul, Minnesota; a son, Eric, of Champaign, Illinois; six brothers, David, Charles, William, Richard, Michael, and Andrew; and three sisters, Jean Swanson, Eleanor Grotsky, and Marguerite Horn.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, 2019 in the University Chapel.
Donations may be sent to The Nature Conservancy.
View or share comments on a blog intended to honor Horn’s life and legacy.
Karl Zaininger passed away Friday, March 22, 2019 in Princeton, with his loving family at his side.
Born August 3, 1929 in Bavaria, Germany, he emigrated to the U.S. on Christmas Eve 1951. He was following his heart to marry Sophia Hugel, a Ukrainian refugee whom he met in postwar Germany. It was to be the start of a long, fulfilling life of family and career.
Soon after his arrival, he was drafted to the U.S. Army during the Korean War, served for two years, and was honorably discharged as a sergeant.
He promptly enrolled in the City College of New York and earned his BS in Electrical Engineering, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and was inducted to the Tau Beta Pi Society. He continued his education earning an MA, a MS, and a PhD in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University in 1964. His studies in the nascent field of solid-state physics would anchor him and his family in Princeton for the next six decades.
Karl became a research scientist at RCA’s David Sarnoff Laboratories and over the next 20 years worked on many groundbreaking inventions and discoveries that paved the way for the electronics revolution, the foundation of today’s information age. He and his colleagues were known for their many papers and patents; among them work on MOS and gallium arsenide semiconductors and the development of some of the first CCDs.
In the mid-seventies, Karl was appointed by the Dept. of Energy to help establish the U.S. Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden, Colorado. Thereafter, he managed a number of programs at the U.S. Army Electronics Technology & Devices Lab, in Fort Monmouth and at the Pentagon, with military focus including early work on the GPS system.
Karl returned to the private sector in 1980, when he joined Siemens to strengthen their North American R&D activities. He established Siemens Corporate Research and Support, Inc. in Princeton where he rose to Vice-Chairman and CEO.
From his earliest days, Karl was inspired by great teachers and was drawn to education. Over many decades, he inspired engineering students the world over through his lectures at his beloved Princeton University, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Rutgers University, UCLA, and La Salle College. Later in his life, he shifted focus and taught executive MBA sessions at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kiev Polytechnic Institute, L’viv Business School, and Ukraina University. He also taught executive MBA sessions at the University of Neu-Ulm and helped to bring German students to Columbia Business School. Finally, he was instrumental in establishing the programs of entrepreneurial education at Princeton’s Keller Center, where he taught Innovation Leadership.
Many honors were bestowed on Karl. He was a Lifetime Fellow of IEEE and was inducted into the Ukrainian National Academy of Engineering. At Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, he was awarded an honorary professorship, served on the advisory board of the business school, and received the Medal of Saint Petro Mohyla. He received an honorary doctorate from Ukraina University and was on the advisory board of the L’viv Business School. He was a member of the advisory board of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University as well as a member of the Industrial Research Institute.
Predeceased by his beloved son Mark, Karl is survived by his wife Sophia, his son Alexander, his daughter Lydia, and his five grandchildren, Paula, Augustin, Louisa, Charlotte, and Luke.
A memorial service will be held at the Princeton University Chapel on Sunday March 31 at 1:30 p.m. followed by a reception at the Nassau Club.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Ukrainian Institute of America or the Ukrainian Museum, both in New York City.