215 pages, no illustrations
Part autobiography, part history of the transformation of biology in his time, Bonner discloses what it is like to be a biologist observing the unfolding of the intricacies of life itself. Among the events Bonner discusses are the discovery of embryonic induction; the interpretation of evolution in terms of changes in gene frequency in a population; growth in understanding of the biochemistry of the cell; the beginning of molecular genetics; remarkable insights into animal behavior; the emergence of sociobiology; and the simplification of ecological and evolutionary principles by means of mathematical models.
A charming memoir combining autobiography and a 20th-century history of biology. "A gentleman and a scholar" aptly describes Bonner...Bonner's own lifecycle makes for pleasant reading and inspires a new respect for slime molds. Kirkus Reviews 20020201 Bonner has devoted much of his imaginative and creative biological research of the intervening years to cellular slime molds, which lead fascinating and, before Bonner's work, previously largely unexplained lives. His accounts of his and his graduate students' thinking and experiments convey much of the scientific approach to problems lucidly, and those of his travels, his vacations in Nova Scotia over the course of 40 years, and the many amusing and illuminating incidents in his life reflect a refreshing open-mindedness. This is one scientist's autobiography that manages to be simultaneously delightful and strikingly informative. -- William Beatty Booklist 20020315 This charming and unduly modest book is part memoir, part distillation of 20th-century biology, as told by an eminent researcher, writer and teacher who witnessed much of it firsthand. Bonner...invokes life cycles and development, his specialties, to talk about the last century's gigantic steps forward in biology. He covers advances in biochemistry, population genetics and embryology; the discovery of DNA structure; and the human genome project. Against this parade of discoveries, Bonner considers his own career, which included everything from animal social behavior to evolution. Publishers Weekly 20020506 John Tyler Bonner had the luck to be born into a family that lived a charmed life, the fortune to find a lifelong passion and the timing to live at the heyday of his favorite subject. In his autobiography, The Lives of a Biologist: Adventures in a Century of Extraordinary Science, Bonner...smoothly integrates advances in biology during the 20th century with tales from a life that now stretches into its ninth decade. In simple but elegant prose, he revisits some of the most important biological advances, from embryology to molecular genetics. -- Sally Squires Washington Post 20020602 Here is a man of prodigious scientific talent, who emerges in Lives of a Biologist as the best kind of scientist--a man fascinated by the things he is investigating, and finding great joy in them...This is a life well and fulfillingly lived, told with warmth and humor. -- John R. G. Turner New York Times Book Review 20020616 This memoir by the great celebrant of slime moulds offers a fascinating overview of a century of biology. Bonner tells of changes in biological thinking, and his own pervasive influence in the study of life cycles and morphogenesis. New Scientist 20020706 [A] gracefully written memoir...Bonner, who began his career as an embryologist, provides many insights regarding the changing fashions he and others have observed in the field of developmental biology. -- K. B. Sterling Choice 20021101
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