17th Apr 1938 - 24th Feb 2003
DEVELOPMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT: research and investigation into how businesses, industries, and housing areas affect nature and the environment
ECOLOGY: the scientific study of the location, number, and relationships between living organisms in an environment
WETLAND: an area located between a terrestrial and aquatic environment that is periodically waterlogged, such as a mangrove swamp, bog, or marsh. Wetlands provide a safe environment for many different species of fish, shellfish, insects, and birds.
ZOOLOGY: the study of animal life
Professor Bacon, with the help of his wife Tyra, wrote The Devil Birds, a book of nature conservation stories for children, published in 1980.
Caribbean Icons in STI Volume 2
Professor Peter Bacon was a well-known, certified Professional Wetland Scientist whose knowledge of coastal and wetland ecology was highly valued, both locally and internationally. He was also a dedicated educator for over 30 years at The University of the West Indies (UWI), where he trained many young scientists.
Peter Robin Bacon was born on 17th April, 1938 in Reading, England. He attended the Maldon Grammar School and, after completing secondary school, he obtained his first job at the Museum of Natural History in London. While working at the museum, he became interested in zoology. He enrolled at the University of London and was awarded a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Entomology in 1961 and, a year later, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. In 1963, he migrated to Trinidad and Tobago, where he taught at the secondary level while studying for his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at UWI. Bacon’s seminal work on the ecology of the Caroni Swamp constituted his PhD thesis and, in 1969, he was the first PhD graduate in zoology from UWI’s St. Augustine Campus.
He lectured in zoology at UWI, St. Augustine from 1970 to 1980 and at Mona from 1982 to 1993. He returned to St. Augustine in 1993 to serve as Professor and Head of the Department of Life Sciences. He was instrumental in improving postgraduate facilities and initiated the Science for the Management of Tropical Environments programme, the first Master of Science in environmental studies at the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
At St. Augustine, Professor Bacon continued his research on the ecology of coastal wetlands and invertebrates, developmental impact assessment in tropical islands, and the management and protection of Caribbean wetland environments. He supervised research on the Caroni and Nariva Swamps in Trinidad and important wetland areas in Tobago. He also studied the biology and conservation of leatherback turtles in the 1970s and 1980s which resulted in several publications.
Professor Bacon worked with many local and international boards and committees that promoted conservation and preservation. Such groups included the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Wildlife Conservation Committee and the International Wetland Research Bureau. He was a member of a United Nations team that researched the effect of climate change on mangroves. In 1994, Professor Bacon set up the Wetland Research Group, which conducts research on the ecology and management of wetlands in Trinidad and Tobago.
During his life, he wrote many scientific papers, manuals and books including The Natural Resources of Trinidad and Tobago and Flora and Fauna of the Caribbean.
Professor Peter Bacon died on 24th February, 2003. In his honour, the postgraduate laboratory at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at UWI, St. Augustine was named the Peter R Bacon Postgraduate Laboratory.