Planet Earth

Top 10 evolutionary biologists of all time

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMay 18, 2006 12:36 PM


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Your nominations? Mine below.... Charles Darwin R.A. Fisher Sewall Wright J.B.S. Haldane Motoo Kimura Ernst Mayr Richard Lewontin J. M. Smith W.D. Hamilton Theodosius Dobzhansky I chose based on subjective criteria, and the individuals above differ a great deal. Lewontin has done good work, but mostly I put him on the list because I think the paper co-authored with Hubby in the 1960s was an inflection point which signalled the end a long period of torpidity. I don't think much of Mayr's theoretical projects (see the problems with his "genetic revolutions" or "founder flush" verbal models, though later workers have done the mathematical heavy lifting to salvage them, for example, see Alan Templeton's work with "translience"). But, he was a cog who was at the center of different movements, a synthesizer who shaped how the Modern Synthesis was channeled via journals like Evolution. His mediation of Sewall Wright's ideas in regard to population substructure is also significant. Of course, Darwin, Fisher and Wright are cases where I don't think any apologia is necessary. Off the list, but I considered: James Crow Karl Pearson E.B. Ford George C. Williams T. H. Huxley There is a method to the madness, I'm thinking about writing a small script to generate "Which evolutionary biologist are you?" Think it might be fun.

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