Friday, June 19, 2009

Finch work pays off: the Grants awarded Kyoto Prize

Much congrats to Peter and Rosemary Grant, who have recently been awarded the 2009 Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences. Aren't they cute? They're also the first husband-and-wife team to receive the prize...go marriage!

The Grants, who are both professors at Princeton, were recognized for their work on evolutionary adaptions as a reaction to enviromental change. They have spent 35 (!) years studying the finches that Darwin made famous in his trip to the Galapagos aboard the Beagle; their most significant study, published in 1996, showed how beak size and shape of ground finches changed within the course of a few generations as a result of the differing availability of different size seeds. Together, they have published over 200 papers and have recently published a book about their experience detailing the finches of the Galapagos, entitled How and Why Species Multiply: The Radiation of Darwin's Finches.

Their dedication to evolutionary biology is ridiculous, as the couple still makes yearly visits to the Galapagos to study finch morphology. The work has paid off though, as the general consensus in the scientific community is that evolutionary biology is closer to a stage where obtaining proof is tangible thanks to their long-term commitment to the field.

It's really nice to read a story like this, as it warms both the brain and the heart. I'm sure that the married life of two very prominent and busy scientists must be taxing to maintain and nurture, so I'm glad to hear that the Grants are not only making it work but are also able to accomplish extraordinary things in the field of evolutionary biology, which is an unenviable task in itself. Darwin would be proud.

Article link here:

-Andrew Plan

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