Rick Prum Receives The Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing About Science

April 20, 2021

Congratulations to EEB professor Rick Prum, who has received the Lewis Thomas Prize for writing about science from Rockefeller University.  The Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science is an international award that honors the “scientist as poet” and recognizes “the rare individual who bridges the worlds of science and the humanities, whose voice and vision can tell us about science’s aesthetic and philosophical dimensions.”

Intellectual fearlessness and a flair for independent thinking have fueled Rick’s discoveries, which have exposed new frontiers in diverse scientific realms. His creative, interdisciplinary approach has established him as a leading evolutionary biologist and ornithologist, and his familiarity with birds has led him to novel investigational opportunities that have revealed unanticipated aspects of bird behavior, evolution, and anatomy. Rick’s first book for a general audience pops with vivid descriptions and a compelling challenge to dogma about the purpose of beauty.

In The Evolution of Beauty, Rick challenges the “honest signaling” idea, in which attractive features reflect fitness. Instead, females’ aesthetic preferences drive the evolution of many elaborate and beautiful traits. Charles Darwin proposed this notion 150 years ago, but it fell from favor.  Rick is reviving it for the public in a form that delights as vigorously as it informs. The New York Times Book Review chose The Evolution of Beauty as one of the 10 best books of 2017, and it was one of three finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

The virtual prize presentation and lecture will be today, April 20, at 5:30 PM.  For more details and to register for the event please visit the Rockefeller University website.