The true tales in this collection will take readers from the chicken houses of Arkansas to the caves of Venezuela and Mexico to the coast of Alaska. These fifteen adventures range from amusing to life threatening. Some are filled with suspense and danger in exotic places, while others document more routine but important biological field and lab work. Meet the roommate with the rash that wouldn't go away, a friendly bull, some blind cave fish, killer whales, drug smugglers, and hairy roots that are used to produce new medicines. Read about researchers crawling through rotten-egg-smelling muck in search of an elusive mosquitofish, diving into the cold black water of the White River in search of mussels, flying with bush pilots in Alaska, and working with David Attenborough in Arkansas. Here are teachers and researchers, biologists all, all from one university, real people who get their feet wet and their hands dirty in the pursuit of knowledge.
August Weismann’s 1892 theory that inheritance is transmitted through eggs and sperm provided the biological mechanism for natural selection. In this full-length biography, Frederick Churchill situates Weismann in the swirling intellectual currents of his day and shows how his work paved the way for the modern synthesis of genetics and evolution.
Beginning in 1951, Will Troyer embarked on a thirty-year career with the U.S. Department of the Interior that included positions such as fish and game warden and manager of the Kodiak Island brown bear preserve. Troyer’s engaging prose affirms his passionate connection to the natural world, as he describes experiences such as being in the midst of a herd of 40,000 caribou. Bear Wrangler is an absorbing tale of one man’s experience as an authentic pioneer in the last vestiges of American wilderness.
The Chicago Guide to Landing a Job in Academic Biology is an indispensable guide for graduate students and post-docs as they enter that domain red in tooth and claw: the job market.
An academic career in the biological sciences typically demands well over a decade of technical training. So it’s ironic that when a scholar reaches the most critical stage in that career—the search for a job following graduate work—he or she receives little or no formal preparation. Instead, students are thrown into the job market with only cursory guidance on how to search for and land a position.
Now there’s help. Carefully, clearly, and with a welcome sense of humor, The Chicago Guide to Landing a Job in Academic Biology leads graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through the perils and rewards of their first job search. The authors—who collectively have for decades mentored students and served on hiring committees—have honed their advice in workshops at biology meetings across the country. The resulting guide covers everything from how to pack an overnight bag without wrinkling a suit to selecting the right job to apply for in the first place. The authors have taken care to make their advice useful to all areas of academic biology—from cell biology and molecular genetics to evolution and ecology—and they give tips on how applicants can tailor their approaches to different institutions from major research universities to small private colleges.
With jobs in the sciences ever more difficult to come by, The Chicago Guide to Landing a Job in Academic Biology is designed to help students and post-docs navigate the tricky terrain of an academic job search—from the first year of a graduate program to the final negotiations of a job offer.
Over the centuries, natural history museums have evolved from being little more than musty repositories of stuffed animals and pinned bugs, to being crucial generators of new scientific knowledge. They have also become vibrant educational centers, full of engaging exhibits that share those discoveries with students and an enthusiastic general public.
At the heart of it all from the very start have been curators. Yet after three decades as a natural history curator, Lance Grande found that he still had to explain to people what he does. This book is the answer—and, oh, what an answer it is: lively, exciting, up-to-date, it offers a portrait of curators and their research like none we’ve seen, one that conveys the intellectual excitement and the educational and social value of curation. Grande uses the personal story of his own career—most of it spent at Chicago’s storied Field Museum—to structure his account as he explores the value of research and collections, the importance of public engagement, changing ecological and ethical considerations, and the impact of rapidly improving technology. Throughout, we are guided by Grande’s keen sense of mission, of a job where the why is always as important as the what.
This beautifully written and richly illustrated book is a clear-eyed but loving account of natural history museums, their curators, and their ever-expanding roles in the twenty-first century.
What are the conditions that foster true novelty and allow visionaries to set their eyes on unknown horizons? What have been the challenges that have spawned new innovations, and how have they shaped modern biology? In Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences, editors Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich explore these questions through the lives of eighteen exemplary biologists who had grand and often radical ideas that went far beyond the run-of-the-mill science of their peers.
From the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who coined the word “biology” in the early nineteenth century, to the American James Lovelock, for whom the Earth is a living, breathing organism, these dreamers innovated in ways that forced their contemporaries to reexamine comfortable truths. With this collection readers will follow Jane Goodall into the hidden world of apes in African jungles and Francis Crick as he attacks the problem of consciousness. Join Mary Lasker on her campaign to conquer cancer and follow geneticist George Church as he dreams of bringing back woolly mammoths and Neanderthals. In these lives and the many others featured in these pages, we discover visions that were sometimes fantastical, quixotic, and even threatening and destabilizing, but always a challenge to the status quo.
Hear Him Roar: A Novel
Andrew Wingfield Utah State University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3623.I6625H43 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
A cougar attacks a jogger in the suburbs of a Western city. Charlie Sayers, a wildlife biologist facing retirement, is drawninto the search for the lion. He gets caught up in the conflict between wildlife habitat and an increasingly developed environment as, teetering between crisis and farce, he tries to piece together the puzzle of his own life.
I Have Landed
Stephen Jay Gould Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress QH81.G6732 2011 | Dewey Decimal 508
Gould’s final essay collection is based on his remarkable series for Natural History magazine—exactly 300 consecutive essays, with never a month missed, published from 1974 to 2001. Both an intellectually thrilling journey into the nature of scientific discovery and the most personal book he ever published.
This entertaining collection of essays from professional scientists and naturalists provides an enlightening look at the lives of field biologists with a passion for the hidden world of nocturnal wildlife. Into the Night explores the harrowing, fascinating, amusing, and largely unheard personal experiences of scientists willing to forsake the safety of daylight to document the natural history of these uniquely adapted animals.
Contributors tell of confronting North American bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes; suffering red ctenid spider bites in the tropical rain forest; swimming through layers of feeding-frenzied hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos; evading the wrath of African bull elephants in South Africa; and delighting in the curious and gentle nature of foxes and unconditional acceptance by a family of owls. They describe “fire in the sky” across a treeless tundra, a sea ablaze with bioluminescent algae, nighttime earthquakes on the Pacific Rim, and hurricanes and erupting volcanoes on a Caribbean island.
Into the Night reveals rare and unexpected insights into nocturnal field research, illuminating experiences, discoveries, and challenges faced by intrepid biologists studying nature’s nightly marvels across the globe. This volume will be of interest to scientists and general readers alike.
When Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, eighty million acres were flagged as possible national park land. Field expeditions were tasked with recording what was contained in these vast acres. Under this decree, five men were sent into the sprawling, roadless interior of Alaska, unsure of what they’d encounter and ultimately responsible for the fate of four thousand pristine acres. Life and Times of a Big River follows Peter J. Marchand and his team of biologists as they set out to explore the land that would ultimately become the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Their encounters with strange plants, rare insects, and little-known mammals bring to life a land once thought to be static and monotonous. And their struggles to navigate and adapt to an unforgiving environment capture the rigorous demands of remote field work. Weaving in and out of Marchand's narrative is an account of the natural and cultural history of the area as it relates to the expedition and the region’s Native peoples. Life and Times of a Big River chorincles this riveting, one-of-a-kind journey of uncertainty and discovery from a disparate (and at one point desperate) group of biologists.
Beginning with the discovery of genes on chromosomes and culminating with the unmasking of the most minute genetic mysteries, the twentieth century saw astounding and unprecedented progress in the science of biology. In an illustrious career that spanned most of the century, biologist John Bonner witnessed many of these advances firsthand. Part autobiography, part history of the extraordinary transformation of biology in his time, Bonner's book is truly a life in science, the story of what it is to be a biologist observing the unfolding of the intricacies of life itself.
Bonner's scientific interests are nearly as varied as the concerns of biology, ranging from animal culture to evolution, from life cycles to the development of slime molds. And the extraordinary cast of characters he introduces is equally diverse, among them Julian Huxley, J. B. S. Haldane, Leon Trotsky, and Evelyn Waugh. Writing with a charm and freshness that bring the most subtle nuances of science to life, he pursues these interests through the hundred years that gave us the discovery of embryonic induction; the interpretation of evolution in terms of changes in gene frequency in a population; growth in understanding of the biochemistry of the cell; the beginning of molecular genetics; remarkable insights into animal behavior; the emergence of sociobiology; and the simplification of ecological and evolutionary principles by means of mathematical models. In this panoramic view, we see both the sweep of world events and scientific progress and the animating details, the personal observations and experiences, of a career conducted in their midst.
In Bonner's view, biology is essentially the study of life cycles. His book, marking the cycles of a life in biology, is a fitting reflection of this study, with its infinite, and infinitesimal, permutations.
Table of Contents:
1. The World of My Elders: 1900-1920 2. Becoming a Biologist: 1920-1940 3. Everything Peaks: 1940-1960 4. Revolution and Progress: 1960-1980 5. Coming Together: 1980-2000
Reviews of this book: A charming memoir combining autobiography and a 20th-century history of biology. "A gentleman and a scholar" aptly describes Bonner...Bonner's own lifecycle makes for pleasant reading and inspires a new respect for slime molds. --Kirkus Reviews
Reviews of this book: Bonner has devoted much of his imaginative and creative biological research of the intervening years to cellular slime molds, which lead fascinating and, before Bonner's work, previously largely unexplained lives. His accounts of his and his graduate students' thinking and experiments convey much of the scientific approach to problems lucidly, and those of his travels, his vacations in Nova Scotia over the course of 40 years, and the many amusing and illuminating incidents in his life reflect a refreshing open'mindedness. This is one scientist's autobiography that manages to be simultaneously delightful and strikingly informative. --William Beatty, Booklist
Reviews of this book: This charming and unduly modest book is part memoir, part distillation of 20th-century biology, as told by an eminent researcher, writer and teacher who witnessed much of it firsthand. Bonner...invokes life cycles and development, his specialties, to talk about the last century's gigantic steps forward in biology. He covers advances in biochemistry, population genetics and embryology; the discovery of DNA structure; and the human genome project. Against this parade of discoveries, Bonner considers his own career, which included everything from animal social behavior to evolution. --Publishers Weekly
Reviews of this book: John Tyler Bonner had the luck to be born into a family that lived a charmed life, the fortune to find a lifelong passion and the timing to live at the heyday of his favorite subject. In his autobiography, The Lives of a Biologist: Adventures in a Century of Extraordinary Science, Bonner...smoothly integrates advances in biology during the 20th century with tales from a life that now stretches into its ninth decade. In simple but elegant prose, he revisits some of the most important biological advances, from embryology to molecular genetics. --Sally Squires, Washington Post
Reviews of this book: Here is a man of prodigious scientific talent, who emerges in Lives of a Biologist as the best kind of scientist--a man fascinated by the things he is investigating, and finding great joy in them...This is a life well and fulfillingly lived, told with warmth and humor. --John R. G. Turner, New York Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: This memoir by the great celebrant of slime moulds offers a fascinating overview of a century of biology. Bonner tells of changes in biological thinking, and his own pervasive influence in the study of life cycles and morphogenesis. --New Scientist
Reviews of this book: [A] gracefully written memoir...Bonner, who began his career as an embryologist, provides many insights regarding the changing fashions he and others have observed in the field of developmental biology. --K. B. Sterling, Choice
A gracious and immensely enjoyable memoir from an era in which scientists could still be gentlemen. Bonner's generosity of spirit shines through on almost every page. --Evelyn Fox Keller, MIT
Imagine a wonderful writer who just keeps writing book after book and just keeps getting more and more readable with each one. That's John Bonner. Now he's done a memoir full of magic names from the past, where his kind humor softens a keen eye for human antics including his own. If you like biology, biography, and history of science and don't mind having fun reading it, then this book is for you. I would get two, one to keep and one to loan." --Mary Jane West-Eberhard Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Surely there can be few scientists with the breadth of knowledge, the puckish wit and the all-round modest good humor that John Bonner displays in this splendid memoir. Long may he write! --Anne Firor Scott, W.K. Boyd Professor of History emerita, Duke University
A charming, personal account of the ascendance of the life sciences to their current dominance by someone who has been there. Few biologists grasp their discipline at as many levels as John Tyler Bonner does, and even fewer can claim as many firsthand encounters with the greats of the past century. The result is an autobiography that is both delightful and informative. --Frans de Waal, Living Links Center at Emory University
This is a delightful memoir by one of the most charming and well-spoken biologists on the planet. John Tyler Bonner's career now spans half a dozen scientific generations, from each of which he has gathered friends and wisdom. In looking back, he illuminates both the story of his life and the story of life. --Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch and Time, Love, and Memory
Outsider Scientists describes the transformative role played by “outsiders” in the growth of the modern life sciences. Biology, which occupies a special place between the exact and human sciences, has historically attracted many thinkers whose primary training was in other fields: mathematics, physics, chemistry, linguistics, philosophy, history, anthropology, engineering, and even literature. These outsiders brought with them ideas and tools that were foreign to biology, but which, when applied to biological problems, helped to bring about dramatic, and often surprising, breakthroughs.
This volume brings together eighteen thought-provoking biographical essays of some of the most remarkable outsiders of the modern era, each written by an authority in the respective field. From Noam Chomsky using linguistics to answer questions about brain architecture, to Erwin Schrödinger contemplating DNA as a physicist would, to Drew Endy tinkering with Biobricks to create new forms of synthetic life, the outsiders featured here make clear just how much there is to gain from disrespecting conventional boundaries. Innovation, it turns out, often relies on importing new ideas from other fields. Without its outsiders, modern biology would hardly be recognizable.
Peril in the Ponds tells the story of a government biologist’s investigation into the mystery of deformed frogs, an epidemic that grew during the 1990s and continues today. It provides an inside view of a highly charged environmental issue that aroused the attention of the public and the media and sparked controversies among scientists, politicians, and government agencies. By the 1990s, wetlands across the United States were endangered from pollution and decades of drainage to convert them into farmland and urban developments. But when deformed frogs—many with missing legs or eyes, footless stumps, or misshapen jaws—began to emerge from Minnesota wetlands, alarm bells went off. What caused such deformities? Pollution? Ultraviolet rays? Biological agents? And could the mysterious cause also pose a threat to humans? Judy Helgen writes with passionate concern about vulnerable frogs and wetlands as she navigates through a maze of inquisitive media and a reluctant government agency. She reports on the complexity of a growing catastrophe for frogs and broadens the issue as she researches and meets with scientists from around the world. She affirms the importance of examining aquatic life to understand pollution and the need to rescue our remaining wetlands. She also shares the fears expressed by the teachers, students, and other citizens who found these creatures, sensed a problem, and looked to her for answers. Ultimately, this is a story about the biological beauty of wetlands and our need to pay attention to the environment around us.
"Provine's thorough and thoroughly admirable examination of Wright's life and influence, which is accompanied by a very useful collection of Wright's papers on evolution, is the best we have for any recent figure in evolutionary biology."—Joe Felsenstein, Nature
"In Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology . . . Provine has produced an intellectual biography which serves to chart in considerable detail both the life and work of one man and the history of evolutionary theory in the middle half of this century. Provine is admirably suited to his task. . . . The resulting book is clearly a labour of love which will be of great interest to those who have a mature interest in the history of evolutionary theory."-John Durant, ;ITimes Higher Education Supplement;X
Merriam's turkey is a bird native to the southern Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau, a subspecies that might seem at first blush an unlikely subject for intensive research. But as Harley Shaw well knows, no creature is exempt from the close scrutiny of biologists. Shaw is himself a research biologist perhaps best known for his book Soul among Lions. Although the wild turkey may be less charismatic than the puma, it offers an equal opportunity for Shaw to reflect on how we manage—or mismanage—wildlife. But while focusing on this big bird of the Southwest, his new book is really a field study of another rare species, the wildlife management professional. Stalking the Big Bird is a sober and seasoned view of what that rare breed is doing, and failing to do, in its efforts to protect the animals and landscapes that we love.
State and federal wildlife agencies have for some sixty years functioned under the belief that increased knowledge produced by research improves our ability to manage wildlife. Shaw suggests that the more we know about a species, the more difficult clear decisions may often become. He offers shrewd observations on the difficulties of interpreting and implementing research results in the face of pressures exerted by government bureaucracies, non-governmental organizations, and politically powerful loggers, ranchers, land developers, and environmentalists. He also shows that management of even a common game bird may be beyond the capabilities of responsible resource management agencies. Through stories about his own experiences studying Merriam's wild turkey—anecdotes about the foibles of field work and the bureaucratic boondoggles of wildlife management—Shaw reveals some of the complexities involved in wildlife research.
Drawing on a lifetime of work and reflection, his book shows that sound research and effective management of this animal—and, by extension, others—are severely hampered by political agendas, social misunderstandings, inappropriate research, and above all, human indifference. As entertaining as it is informative, Stalking the Big Bird will be of interest to environmentalists, hunters, and resource managers—or anyone confused by the practices of modern wildlife conservation. It will help both professionals and lay readers understand our relationship with one wild subspecies, and in the process get a better handle on the true goals in managing the wild.
Field biology is enjoying a resurgence due to several factors, the most important being the realization that there is no ecology, no conservation, and no ecosystem restoration without an understanding of the basic relationships between species and their environments—an understanding gleaned only through field-based natural history. With this resurgence, modern field biologists find themselves asking fundamental existential questions such as: Where did we come from? What is our story? Are we part of a larger legacy? In This Land Is Your Land, seasoned field biologist Michael J. Lannoo answers these questions and more in a tale rooted in the people and institutions of the Midwest. It is a story told from the ground up, a rubber boot–based natural history of field biology in America.
Lannoo illuminates characters such as John Wesley Powell, William Temple Hornaday, and Olaus and Adolph Murie—homegrown midwestern field biologists who either headed east to populate major research centers or went west to conduct their fieldwork along the frontier. From the pioneering work of Victor Shelford, Henry Chandler Cowles, and Aldo Leopold to contemporary insights from biologists such as Jim Furnish and historians such as William Cronon, Lannoo’s unearthing of American—and particularly midwestern—field biologists reveals how these scientists influenced American ecology, conservation biology, and restoration ecology, and in turn drove global conservation efforts through environmental legislation and land set-asides. This Land Is Your Land reveals the little-known legacy of midwestern field biologists, whose ethos and discoveries have enabled us to preserve and understand not just their land, but all lands.
Prior to the First World War, more people learned of evolutionary theory from the voluminous writings of Charles Darwin’s foremost champion in Germany, Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919), than from any other source, including the writings of Darwin himself. But, with detractors ranging from paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould to modern-day creationists and advocates of intelligent design, Haeckel is better known as a divisive figure than as a pioneering biologist. Robert J. Richards’s intellectual biography rehabilitates Haeckel, providing the most accurate measure of his science and art yet written, as well as a moving account of Haeckel’s eventful life.
Life in the desert is a waiting game: waiting for rain. And in a year of drought, the stakes are especially high.
John Alcock knows the Sonoran Desert better than just about anyone else, and in this book he tracks the changes he observes in plant and animal life over the course of a drought year. Combining scientific knowledge with years of exploring the desert, he describes the variety of ways in which the wait for rain takes place—and what happens when it finally comes.
The desert is a land of five seasons, featuring two summers—hot, dry months followed by monsoon—and Alcock looks at the changes that take place in an entire desert community over the course of all five. He describes what he finds on hikes in the Usery Mountains near Phoenix, where he has studied desert life over three decades and where frequent visits have enabled him to notice effects of seasonal variation that might escape a casual glance.
Blending a personal perspective with field observation, Alcock shows how desert ecology depends entirely on rainfall. He touches on a wide range of topics concerning the desert’s natural history, noting the response of saguaro flowers to heat and the habits of predators, whether soaring red-tailed hawk or tiny horned lizard. He also describes unusual aspects of insects that few desert hikers will have noticed, such as the disruptive color pattern of certain grasshoppers that is more effective than most camouflage.
When the Rains Come is brimming with new insights into the desert, from the mating behaviors of insects to urban sprawl, and features photographs that document changes in the landscape as drought years come and go. It brings us the desert in the harshest of times—and shows that it is still teeming with life.