He was born March 24, 1939, in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and graduated from Holderness High School there. A Leverett House resident and ROTC student at Harvard, he received his A.B. with the Class in 1960. He earned an M.S. in zoology at the University of New Hampshire in 1962. While pursuing his Ph.D. in biological oceanography at Harvard in 1968, he worked as a research assistant at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, studying coastal ecology and pollution.
He taught at the University of Miami and New York University before settling in at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, in its newly formed Department of Environmental Sciences. He served on the faculty there for twenty-five years, retiring as a professor emeritus in 1995; the university established an award in his name for outstanding students in the fields of environmental geology, ecology, and atmospheric science.
He then became founder and president of GEK, Inc., a company that sold Russian-made microscopes and other optical instruments. He also wrote about computers and programming. His books include Biology, Evolution and Adaptation to the Environment and FORTH: A Text and Reference.
He was survived by his wife of twenty-five years, Gretchen Leigh.