A native of Utah and Wyoming, Paul Alan Cox graduated in Botany and Philosophy from Brigham Young University. As a Fulbright Fellow, he read for his M.Sc. in Ecology at the University of Wales. He later received his A.M. and Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University where he was a Danforth Fellow and a National Science Foundation Fellow. At Harvard, he was twice awarded the Bowdoin Prize in Literature. He was later awarded a D.Sc. Honoris Causa by the University of Guelph.
After serving as Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, Cox was named a Presidential Young Investigator by Ronald Reagan. In the same year, he was also named as a Melbourne University Research Fellow. He served as Professor and later Dean at Brigham Young University before being appointed as the King Carl XVI Gustaf Professor of Environmental Biology in Uppsala in honor of the Swedish King’s 50th birthday. Cox was awarded the E. K. Janaki Ammal Medal from India and is a foreign member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Agriculture and Forestry in Stockholm. He has published over 189 scientific papers and 4 books.
In 1997, TIME magazine named Cox one of 11 “Heroes of Medicine” for his work in ethnobotanical drug discovery. In the same year, he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts in preserving Samoan rain forests and later shared the Rachel Carson Award with Senator Tom Harkin. He was elected President for the Society of Economic Botany and President of the International Society for Ethnopharmacology. He served for seven years as Director of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii and Florida.
Cox founded and is chairman of Seacology, an environmental organization headquartered in Berkeley, California, which has preserved 98,000 acres of rain forest and 1.7 million acres of coral reef on islands throughout the world. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the National Park of American Samoa, a park which he was instrumental in establishing. Cox has served on the boards of the AIDS Research Alliance, the Center for Plant Conservation, and Hawaii Reserves.
Cox is a resident of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he is Director of the Institute of Ethnomedicine. His current ethnobotanical research is focused on neurodegenerative illness with the goal of discovering new therapies for ALS and Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Doing research ordinarily done by other types of scientists, Paul Alan Cox thinks he may have made a significant discovery: that the toxin is produced by blue-green algae, the oldest and most pervasive organism on the planet.” – Miami Herald, 2005