Richard C. Lewontin

Alexander Agassiz Research Professor, Harvard University

November 18, 2003
International House, Chevron Auditorium — 2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley

Add to Google Calendar 11/18/2003 11/18/2003 6:00 PM America/Los_Angeles Gene, Organism, and Environment: Bad Metaphors and Good Biology

About the Lecture The standard metaphors used to describe DNA and development are examined, including the claim that DNA “makes” protein, that DNA is “self-replicating” and the organisms “adapt” to their environments. In this lecture by distinguished evolutionary geneticist Richard … Continued

International House, Chevron Auditorium - 2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley Berkeley Graduate Lectures lectures@berkeley.edu false MM/DD/YYYY

About the Lecture

The standard metaphors used to describe DNA and development are examined, including the claim that DNA “makes” protein, that DNA is “self-replicating” and the organisms “adapt” to their environments. In this lecture by distinguished evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin, he explains that DNA is manufactured by the cell machinery, that proteins are folded by rules that are not related to DNA sequence and that organisms, rather than adapting to their environment, are actively engaging in constructing their own environments, so that organisms and environments co-evolve.

About Richard C. Lewontin

A distinguished evolutionary geneticist, Lewontin is credited with introducing the study of molecular population genetics over two decades ago. Aside from his groundbreaking scientific research, he is an incisive critic of public misconceptions on evolutionary biology and the misuse of science. Lewontin continues research into the questions of the inheritance or non-inheritance of human behavioral traits like I.Q. and temperament. He is also widely recognized for authoring papers on questions of evolutionary theory. Most famous are those co-written with J.L.Hubby in 1966 on molecular population genetics. Lewontin is the author of numerous books, including Human Diversity (1982), Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology and Human Nature (1984), Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA (1991), and most recently The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment  (2000). Born in 1929 in New York, Lewontin earned his A.B. in biology from Harvard in 1951. He received his M.S. in mathematical statistics in 1952, and his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1954, both from Columbia University. After professorships at North Carolina State University, the University of Rochester, and the University of Chicago, Lewontin returned to Harvard in 1973, serving as the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Biology until 1998. Since then, he has served as the Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at Harvard. Lewontin’s achievements have been recognized with honors as a Fulbright Fellow (1961), and a National Science Foundation Senior Postdoctoral Fellow (1961 and 1971). In 1994, he received the Sewall Wright Award from the American Society of Naturalists.


Watch and Listen

Related Lectures