On this date in 1949, Jerry Allen Coyne was born. He received his B.S. in biology from the College of William and Mary in 1971, and earned his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 1978. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California-Davis, then became an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. Since 1996, he has been a member of the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he is now a professor in the department of evolution & ecology.
Coyne teaches classes on evolution, including the evidence for it. He told American Scientist that he explains to his students, “In physics we don't start off with how we know that atoms exist. In chemistry we don't start off with the evidence for chemical bonds. But evolution is different, because the evidence is so cool and not a lot of people know it, but also because I want you to go out into the world knowing that it's important that this is a fact, it's a true fact about where we came from.” Coyne has had a long and prolific scientific career in the field of evolution, authoring over 100 scholarly papers and a scholarly book, Speciation (with H. Allen Orr). Coyne also writes for a popular audience. His 2009 book, Why Evolution is True, is widely praised as a clear, concise and convincing explanation of the scientific theory of evolution. Coyne also regularly writes for popular periodicals, including The New Republic. His blog, http://whyevolutionistrue.com, is frequently updated with posts on science, daily life and freethought issues. In 2011, FFRF awarded Jerry Coyne the Emperor Has No Clothes award for plain speaking on religion. Coyne has also been a guest on Freethought Radio several times. In 2013, Coyne worked with FFRF to stop a Ball State University Professor from teaching creationism,
“As the years went on I gradually transmogrified from being an evolutionary biologist to an evolutionary biologist atheist and now I'm more of an atheist than an evolutionary biologist. I realized that creationism, the opposition to evolution, is the least of our worries that religion promulgates, compared to someone throwing acid in the face of a schoolgirl in Afghanistan.”
—Jerry Coyne, acceptance speech of Emperor Has No Clothes Award, October 2011
Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski; Photo with permission of Jerry Coyne
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