Jim Costa

Western Carolina University professor Jim Costa has been named an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Scholar at the New York Botanical Garden’s Humanities Institute.

Jim Costa, professor of biology at Western Carolina University and executive director of WCU’s Highlands Biological Station, has been named an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Scholar at the New York Botanical Garden’s Humanities Institute.

The award will support research of manuscripts in the Charles Finney Cox Collection of Charles Darwin’s writings, correspondence and other materials in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library this summer. The visiting scholars program involves an interdisciplinary approach to research in the environmental humanities, connecting nature to the human experience.

The research will be for Costa’s latest endeavor, writing an annotated edition of Darwin’s “The Descent of Man,” to be published by Princeton University Press.

Costa is a devotee and scholar of Darwin who has taught courses on the 19th-century British naturalist at WCU and abroad for more than 20 years. He is the author of “Darwin’s Backyard, How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory,” an award-winning look at Darwin, his round-the-world voyage on the HMS Beagle and his many experiments at Down House, his home of 40 years.

Costa has been a WCU faculty member since 1996. He was named director of the Highlands Biological Station, a 23-acre facility that includes research and teaching laboratories, the Highlands Nature Center and the Highlands Botanical Garden, in 2006.