Herman Beerman Lecturer
Neil H. Shubin, PhD
University of Chicago
Title: Some Assembly Required: The Deep History of the Human Body
Neil Shubin is the Robert Bensley Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He’s also the author of two popular science books — The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body (2013) and the best-selling Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (2008). Your Inner Fish was named best book of the year by the National Academy of Sciences.
The focus of Shubin’s research is the evolution of new organs, especially limbs. He has conducted fieldwork in Greenland, China, Canada, and much of North America and Africa and has discovered some of the earliest mammals, crocodiles, dinosaurs, frogs and salamanders in the fossil record.
One of his most significant discoveries, the 375-million-year-old Tiktaalik roseae fossil, is considered an important transitional form between fish and land animals. The 2006 announcement of the finding received worldwide media coverage and led to Shubin’s being named ABC News Person of the Week. He’s made many other notable observations regarding the developmental biology of limbs, using his diverse fossil findings to devise hypotheses about the genetic and developmental processes that led to anatomical transformations. He is also committed to sharing the importance of science with the public, and his lab maintains an active presence on Facebook and Twitter.
Dr. Shubin earned his Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.