Richard Primack received his PhD in biology from Duke University in 1976. He is currently Professor of Biology at Boston University (BU).At the Primack Lab, part of the BU Department of Biology, students investigate the impact of climate change on the flowering and leafing out times of plants; the spring arrival of birds and the flight times of insects in Massachusetts, Japan, and South Korea; and the potential for ecological mismatches among species caused by climate change. The main geographical focus of the Lab is Concord, Massachusetts, due to the availability of extensive phenological records kept by Henry David Thoreau and later naturalists.
The Lab uses Concord as a living laboratory to determine the effects of climate change and land use changes on the population dynamics of native and non-native species. Students compare results from Concord with long-term changes at Acadia National Park in Maine. An expanding interest is the variation among species in leafing out times and leaf senescence times, and the physiological control of these processes. An ongoing activity involves producing conservation biology textbooks and working with coauthors to produce textbooks in other languages.
Professor Primack received the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award, presented at the foundation's annual meeting in Berlin June 11, 2015.
Richard Primack serves as Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Biological Conservation. Since the 1980s, Primack has authored or coauthored over 300 scientific publications.