Beth Shapiro, HHMI Investigator, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz
Dr. Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in the genetics of ice age animals and plants. As professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, she uses DNA recovered from bones and other remains to study how species evolved through time and how human activities have affected and continue to affect this dynamic process. Her work focuses on organisms ranging from influenza to mammoths, asking questions about domestication, admixture, speciation, and pathogen evolution. Her current work also develops techniques to recover increasingly trace amounts of DNA, such as from environmental and water samples, and use these data to discover how biological communities and ecosystems might be made more resilient.
A 2009 MacArthur Fellow, Shapiro is an award-winning popular science author and communicator who uses her research as a platform to explore the potential of genomic technologies for conservation and medicine. Her newest book, Life As We Made It: How 50,000 Years of Human Innovation Refined – and Redefined – Nature, was published in October 2021.