Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and was a member of both the Committee on Genetics and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. Coyne received a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary. He then earned a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at Harvard University in 1978, working in the laboratory of Richard Lewontin. After a postdoctoral fellowship in Timothy Prout’s laboratory at The University of California at Davis, he took his first academic position as assistant professor in the Department of Zoology at The University of Maryland. In 1996 he joined the faculty of The University of Chicago, becoming Emeritus in 2015.
Coyne’s work was focused on understanding the origin of species: the evolutionary process that produces discrete groups in nature. To do that, he used a variety of genetic analyses to locate and identify the genes that produce reproductive barriers between distinct species of the fruit fly Drosophila: barriers like hybrid sterility, ecological differentiation, and mate discrimination. Through finding patterns in the location and action of such genes, he helped elucidate the evolutionary processes that originally produced genetic change, and investigated whether different pairs of species showed similar genetic patterns, implying similar routes to speciation.
Coyne has written 121 refereed scientific papers and 166 other articles, book reviews, and columns, as well as a scholarly book about his field (Speciation, co-authored with H. Allen Orr). His two “popular books” are Why Evolution is True (2009) and Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible (2015).
He has contributed to The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other popular periodicals. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of The Richard Dawkins Award for exemplifying secularism and rationalism, and The Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.