I received bachelor’s degrees in biology and philosophy from the University of Rochester in 1968 and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University in 1971. I taught at Stanford University beginning in 1972, attaining the rank of Professor of Biology and Geophysics.
In 1992 I founded and directed the Earth Systems Program. In 1995 I received the Dinkelspiel Award for service to undergraduate education. In 2011 I retired and moved to the island of Kauai in Hawaii where I remain a Stanford professor (emerita). In 2012 I joined the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology as Adjunct Professor and Research Scientist.
I have published more than 190 papers and 8 books, including Evolution’s Rainbow in 2004 that won the 2005 Stonewall Prize for nonfiction from the American Library Association. My recent research pertains to the evolution of holobionts, which are composite organisms such as corals where the host contains a symbiotic microbial community called its microbiome.
In 2020 I participated as a keynote speaker at the WISE conference.