Brave Genius
A Scientist’s Journey from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize

Sean Carroll

Wilson Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Wisconsin
Vice President, Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.

Sponsored by The Policy Studies Organization
In Cooperation with the American Public University

Gavel to Gavel Meeting


This lecture will chronicle the adventures of Jacques Monod, a co-founder of molecular biology, from the dark years of the German occupation of Paris to the heights of the Nobel Prize, his friendship with the great writer Albert Camus, and his emergence as a public figure and leading voice of science.



One of the key ideas that Monod championed was the role of chance in the course of life on Earth.  Although still not widely appreciated - four decades later - we now know much more than Monod might have imagined about the ubiquitous role of chance in evolution, from the molecular scale to the planetary.

Biographical Sketch:

John Mather

Sean Carroll is Wilson Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin and Vice President for Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), where he is also the architect of HHMI's science filmmaking initiative.

His research has centered on the genes that control animal body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity. His work has revealed that changes in how these genes are regulated, rather than in the genes themselves, are responsible for much of the physical diversity in the animal kingdom.

Sean earned his BS from Washington University in St. Louis and his PhD from Tufts University. He is an author of more than 125 scientific publications. He is also the author of several books for wider audiences, including Brave Genius: A Scientist, A Philosopher and their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize; Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species; The Making of the Fittest; and Endless Forms Most Beautiful. He wrote the column “Remarkable Creatures” that appeared regularly in the New York Times Science Times. He has appeared frequently on radio and television to discuss science, and has appeared in and served executive producer for over a dozen science films. He also was scientific consulting producer for a two hour NOVA special, based on two of his books, celebrating the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species.

Sean works tirelessly for science education and for bringing science to life for the public, especially the young.

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