Hopeful Monsters #421

May 12, 2017

This week on Science for the People, we are talking about a controversial theory in evolutionary biology that has led to research on the role of single mutations that drastically alter the body plan of organisms. Guest host Anika Hazra speaks with Olivier Rieppel, curator of Evolutionary Biology at the Field Museum, about the history of this theory and where it stands within modern science. And she talks with Nipam Patel, professor of Molecular Cell Biology and Intergrative Biology at UC Berkely, about his experimental research on the role of certain mutated genes in the physical development of crustaceans.


  • Olivier Rieppel
  • Nipam Patel

Guest Bios

Olivier Rieppel

Olivier Rieppel received his Diploma in Zoology from the University of Basel, a Master's Degree in Vertebrate Paleontology from the University College London, and a Doctoral Degree in Zoology from the University of Basel. He obtained his Habilitation in Vertebrate Paleontology from the University of Zürich. He has held professional appointments at the University of Zürich, at the Field Museum in Chicago, and at the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart. His research concerns the systematics and phylogeny of Triassic marine reptiles, the origin of turtles, the head anatomy and phylogeny of squamate reptiles, and the origin of snakes. He also pursues research in the history and philosophy of comparative biology. He has published 304 peer reviewed scientific papers, numerous popular articles, and seven books.

Nipam Patel

Nipam Patel grew up in the West Texas town of El Paso, received an A.B. in Biology from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University. He is a Professor in both the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. Before moving to Berkeley, he was a Staff Associate in the Department of Embryology at the Carnegie Institution and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He is co-author of an undergraduate textbook on Evolution, and has taught in the summertime Embryology Course at the Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole for the past seventeen years.

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