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Durham, bottom right, leads a group of students and alumni in the Amazon. Photo: John Sutherland

As an undergraduate, Bill Durham took the first human biology course offered at Stanford, in 1970. He returned seven years later to teach in hum bio and went on to serve as the interdisciplinary program’s director from 1992 to 1995. A beloved instructor, Durham, ’71, is equally at home teaching a lecture hall full of sophomores about the evolution of human lactose tolerance as he is shepherding 14 of them to study conservation in the Amazon (or Patagonia or Tanzania, for that matter). 

A human ecologist and the Bing Professor in Human Biology, Durham retired this fall after 41 years on the faculty. A look at his legacy:

16,000
students taught

7,698
graduates of the hum bio program

42
Travel/Study trips led, including two around the world

22
PhD students supervised

10
field research projects in Latin America

1
sighting of the elusive woodpecker finch, a Galápagos Island bird that uses a cactus spine to poke into giant daisy trees and extricate grubs



Melinda Sacks, ’74, is a senior writer for STANFORD.