Peter Brussard, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus - In Memorium 1938-2018


Obituary published in Reno Gazette-Journal on June 24, 2018

Dr. Peter F. Brussard passed away at his home in Reno, Nevada on Sunday, May 20th 2018, surrounded by family, friends and faithful Labradors. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Trudy, two sons, William and Peter, sisters-in-law Reva Power and Loretta Tims, three nieces, five great-nieces and two great-nephews.

Peter was born at St Mary's in Reno to William and Evelyn Brussard on June 20th, 1938. He graduated from Reno High in 1956, from Stanford University (BA, History, 1960), UNR,(MA, Zoology, 1966) and again from Stanford (PhD, Biology, 1969).

Before diving into academics he "Kept America Safe for Democracy", serving four years in the Navy on the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea, and a short "respectable banker" career in Reno. Eventually his love for the natural world became his life's passion.

He was a tenured professor at Cornell for 16 years, Head of Biology at Montana State (1985-89), and Chairman of Biology at UNR for more than a decade. He was the Director of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (Gothic, CO) and held adjunct or visiting professorships at the University of Texas, Austin, the University of Arizona, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Otago, New Zealand. He held offices in the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society for Conservation Biology.

Peter co-founded the modern international conservation movement, establishing the Society of Conservation Biology, organizing its first national/international meeting, and holding every office for the Society from Treasurer to President. In 1993 he co-founded the Nevada Biodiversity Initiative which has raised millions of dollars for teaching and research to study and protect Nevada's rich wildlife.

Peter played an active role at state, national, and international levels advocating a science-based approach to the conservation of biological resources. He has hundreds of publications on conservation biology and ecosystem management. Peter Brussard produced well over 40 doctorate and masters students, virtually all of whom still work to promote the conservation or restoration of biological diversity.

At twelve, Peter dismantled his first Model T Ford. He never rebuilt that one, but the love bloomed. He restored and drove dozens of antique cars over his lifetime. He could identify every automobile made between 1885 and 1960 and tell you about it.

The quintessential renaissance man, Peter knew the Latin name of every animal and plant, and all of the classic authors, painters and musicians, and he never went anywhere without his Swiss Army knife.

Peter loved to pile the family, dogs and all, into the car, and drive into the wilderness to camp or travel across the country. This was fun but also serious field research, because every stop provided an opportunity to collect specimens (butterflies, fruit flies, lizards, etc.). There were also numerous trips to Australia to visit friends and explore biodiversity.

As retirement approached, Peter got the RV "bug", a new way to see everything in comfort. With old friends and dogs Peter and Trudy explored the American West. He also discovered a love of cruise ships (nothing like being on an aircraft carrier) and cruises became a favorite adventure to share with friends.

In lieu of flowers, consider a gift to the Brussard Scholarship in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology, at (Unrestricted Excellence: Brussard Scholarship/175510) or (775) 784-1587.


  • Stanford University, BA, History, 1960
  • University of Nevada, reno, MA, Zoology, 1966
  • Stanford University, PhD, Biology, 1969