Narrative accounts of Research for Teaching the Processes of Science.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Sciences education (Management)
Sciences education (Psychological aspects)
Thought and thinking (Educational aspects)
Education (Methods)
Education (Research)
Author: Clopton, Joe R.
Pub Date: 01/01/2011
Publication: Name: The American Biology Teacher Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 National Association of Biology Teachers ISSN: 0002-7685
Issue: Date: Jan, 2011 Source Volume: 73 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research; 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 259466248

To enhance learning about the processes of scientific thinking, this paper suggests that students read and write summaries of narrative accounts of research. Background is provided on the nature of narrative, learning from narrative versus expository texts, surface and deep approaches to studying, and the advantages of writing over testing for assessment. A list of narrative sources is provided.

Key Words: Narrative; scientific thinking; writing; testing; constructivism; objectivism.


"Stories bind. They are connective tissues. They are basic to who we are."

Terry Tempest Williams

Our minds seek order. Through a chaos of input we incessantly sort, grasping for important details and discarding the irrelevant. Always in search of connections that give meaning, we structure the pieces into plausible scenarios, store our understanding in memory, and then move on.

Often, the accounts we distill from our experiences are stories. Commonly concerning interactions with other people, these show cause-and-effect relations and provide explanations. But stories--narratives--are not the only way we organize and communicate. In science, information is structured not around human protagonists but rather within frameworks inherent to the phenomena themselves, Indeed, textbooks, by necessity, are written largely in an expository style, using narrative only sparingly. The term expository refers to a style that describes and/or explains; the goal is to present factual information about structure, function, or events.

In my introductory biology course, I require students to read several narrative accounts of research and write a summary of each. My goal has been to enhance learning about the processes of scientific thinking and investigation. Here, toward a further understanding of this approach, I examine the use of narrative in the teaching of science and discuss writing as a method of assessment. For both narrative and writing I will consider both the probable advantages and also the uncertainties.

* The Nature of Narrative

Stories, seemingly, are everywhere. We construct them to explain daily events, pass them about in conversation, tell them to our children, and enjoy them in books and films. Even our sense of self, that internal monologue that pervades our consciousness, is a story--one we constantly update. Thinking in terms of stories is deeply ingrained, perhaps innately in the circuitry of the brain (Young & Saver, 2001; Wilson, 2005).

Although no single definition is fully adequate, a story (or an account written in a narrative style) clearly has a higher level of organization than, say, a paragraph that merely describes an object. Minimally, there is a sequence of actions or events that unfold through time and are causally related. Definitions commonly include a human protagonist in some predicament, efforts to resolve it, and the outcome (Robinson & Hawpe, 1986). Here, the word story will refer only to nonfiction.

When creating a story we strive to condense, shape, and convert an experience into a form that shows how and why things happened (Robinson & Hawpe, 1986; Wilson, 2001). Because needed information is often missing, especially about the thoughts of others, we make inferences to fill in gaps. In the best cases a story is true to reality; representation is faithful, causal relations are plausible, and any conjecture remains reasonable.

Although narrative, like science, seeks cause-and-effect relations that explain phenomena, the methods and standards are very different. Stories are tested by scrutiny; the key to acceptance is plausibility. Despite efforts to be true to reality, there is an interpretation unique to the teller. So there may be more than one persuasive account, and acceptance may then be based on the personal needs of listeners. By contrast, in science conclusions must be supported by evidence and are subject to verification by others; judgment is withheld until data are available to support conclusions. Alternative ideas are sorted by further research, and those not supported are discarded.

Science seeks truths that widely apply and are not distorted by atypical events. But for a story the sample size is 1; indeed, storytellers love the anecdotes that science abhors. Further, because narrative is rooted in human predicaments, it arouses emotions, and these can influence interpretation. And while science selects only those problems accessible to its methods, narrative tackles whatever comes along.

The stories we construct to explain daily events are fraught with uncertainty. But right or wrong, they allow us to move on. If the standards of science were routinely imposed on everyday affairs, our lives might grind to a halt.

Quite naturally, scientists may distrust stories. Indeed, suggesting that narrative be incorporated into science education might seem like a giant step backwards; an expository style unfettered by human frailties would appear to be more appropriate. However, science is a human activity When introducing its methods to students, it seems reasonable to include all the dimensions of ourselves. The narrative genre is well suited for this, for its specialty is human predicaments; a scientist doing research is immersed in a problem and attempting to find a solution.

* Understanding the Processes of Science

Educational standards emphasize that students need to learn not only basic scientific facts and theories but also the methods and processes of scientific investigation. Indeed, proficiency in the latter has been mandated in the National Science Education Standards for grades K-12 (National Research Council, 1996); it is equally important for undergraduates (Gottfried et al., 1993; Handelsman et al., 2004). The national standards especially recommend greater emphasis on active inquiry; students must conduct investigations first hand.

But for inquires into famous biological discoveries or ongoing research, students must use publications or the Web (National Research Council, 1996: pp. 31, 33). One recommendation is to have students read and report on such an account (pp. 201-204). Often these are written at least partly in a narrative style.

* Research Stories

Table 1 presents a sample of books and articles that consist of, or at least contain, accounts of biologists doing research. Some have a narrative structure throughout; others are partly expository. Reviews are provided to help with evaluation. Importantly, I hope the selections fulfill E. O. Wilson's (2001) prescription that "the central task of science writing for a broad audience is ... to make science human and enjoyable without betraying nature."

Permission to photocopy and payment to publishers can be arranged easily through the Copyright Clearance Center ( Charges commonly are 5 to 15 cents per page per student.

* Genres & Learning

The suggestion here, that having students read narrative accounts of research may enhance their learning about the processes of science, has not been experimentally tested. Indeed, studies comparing student performance after reading narrative or expository texts are few. And the results of these have been mixed: sometimes narrative was better, sometimes expository writing, and sometimes neither. Clearly, there is considerable complexity. See, for example, Wolfe and Mienko (2007); learning was measured in undergraduates who had read a narrative or expository account of the human circulatory system.

* Writing as a Method of Assessment

In my introductory biology course, I use many of the sources listed in Table 1. I have students write a summary of each assigned article or book excerpt and then, in a separate section, give opinions and personal relevance. Of course, reading these papers consumes time; for ways to reduce the workload, see Madigan (1987) and Moore (1994b).

Writing has been widely advocated as a powerful way to stimulate thinking and, thereby, enhance learning (Moore, 1994a; MacKenzie & Gardner, 2006). It forces engagement with new material and helps establish connections with prior knowledge. It generates problems that require reflection; the solutions must then be expressed in meaningful sentences. These are then the basis for additional thought; they can be examined for flaws, revised, reorganized, combined with additional research, or discarded. Thinking, therefore, acquires a clear and solid reality, evolving far beyond the embryonic rudiments floating loosely in the mind. Depth of understanding is increased, and long-term retention may be enhanced. It is only a minor stretch to say that thinking without paper or screen is analogous to sculpting without metal or clay.

Experimental evidence supporting claims that writing tasks enhance learning has been accumulating. However, the writing-learning relationship is not simple; research has produced a mixture of positive and negative results, and many issues remain unresolved (Klein, 1999). For more on the processes in both writing and reading, see Nelson (2001).

* Assessment That Fosters Learning with Depth

Students, like all people, are strategic. The method used to assess their performance strongly influences how they study (Entwistle & Entwistle, 1991). This has been shown in comparisons of testing and writing. In a study of 206 education students, Scouller (1998) found that surface approaches were more likely when preparing for a multiple-choice exam, which was perceived as requiring lower levels of intellectual processing. Deep approaches were more likely for doing a take-home essay; higher intellectual skills were expected.

When using a surface approach, students aim to recognize and reproduce information. Facts and ideas are memorized, accepted passively, and not necessarily understood; reflection is minimal. Indeed, testing encourages memorizing, distorting attempts at meaningful understanding; in excess it is contrary to educational recommendations (Entwistle & Entwistle, 1991; National Research Council, 1996: p. 52; Tynjala, 2001). But with a deep approach the effort to understand is greater. Facts and ideas are connected to organizing principles and to previous knowledge; thinking is more critical (Entwistle & Entwistle, 1991).

A deep approach is consistent with constructivism, a group of theories that have emerged from cognitive and educational research. A central theme is that the human mind actively constructs knowledge and meaning. New knowledge is constructed from both new input and preexisting learning. Understanding is arrived at by the learner rather than being imposed directly by external sources (Biggs, 1996).

In an older view, objectivism, a person acquires new knowledge by receiving and storing that transmitted by others (Biggs, 1996; Nelson, 2001). A student who accurately reproduces facts and ideas is viewed as having learned; the higher a test score, the greater the learning. Objectivism still dominates college science education in practice (Walczyk & Ramsey, 2003). But in the education literature, constructivism has risen to dominance (Biggs, 1996). There has been "a major paradigm shift" (Fisher & Kibby, 1996). Testing is consistent with objectivism, whereas writing is highly constructive.

* Fewer Topics, Greater Depth

When students read an account of research, considerable time is spent on a single topic, perhaps sacrificing broader coverage. But this is consistent with recent suggestions. National standards (National Research Council, 1996: p. 113) recommend more emphasis on just a few fundamental concepts. Recommendations for college biology courses are in agreement: "the traditional survey course with its concern about 'coverage' is probably outmoded" (Gottfried et al., 1993). Bruce Alberts (2005) suggests that "we stop our current, counterproductive attempts to teach broad survey college courses ... there is simply no time to pursue any one aspect of the field in enough depth to make the science come alive."

* Opinions & Possibilities

Despite the uncertainties, the suggestions given here are consistent with current thinking. Narrative accounts of research, minimally, appear to be a way of planting seeds--memories that foster interest and then can be nurtured with information from other sources.

The few published opinions concur. Moore (1994a) discusses the importance of having students read outside the textbook, and Carter and Mayer (1988) describe "a great body of literature that ... delineates the scientific process far better than do most textbooks." Stoddart and McKinley (2006) note that psychology students are more motivated to read stories than textbooks, and student ratings of such courses are higher. "Richer, more elaborate neural networks" may result from combining stories with textbook information. And Martin and Brouwer (1991) state that "the narrative mode is essential to a science education that values the belief that students must have a personal engagement with the ideas they are to learn." Stories allow the passions, doubts, and struggles of scientists to be experienced vicariously; they work not by the brute force of logic, but by the gentleness of empathy Teaching imbued with this wholeness portrays science authentically in all its richness.

Although data on the use of narrative are still scarce and unknowns abound, teaching is partly an art and always will be. So in the interim, it seems, we should still proceed with the planting of seeds.

DOI: 10.1525/abt.2011.73.1.3

* Acknowledgments

This paper was motivated by the enthusiasm of hundreds of students who have shared extraordinary depth of thought in their wonderful writing.


Alberts, B. (2005). A wakeup call for science faculty. Cell, 123, 739-741.

Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education, 32, 347-364.

Carter, J.L. & Mayer, W.V. (1988). Reading beyond the textbook: great books of biology. BioScience, 38, 490-492.

Entwistle, N.J. & Entwistle, A. (1991). Contrasting forms of understanding for degree examinations: the student experience and its implications. Higher Education, 22, 205-227.

Fisher, K.M. & Kibby, M.R. (1996). Preface. In K.M. Fisher & M.R. Kibby (Eds.), Knowledge Acquisition, Organization, and Use in Biology (pp. v-vii). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Gottfried, S., Hoots, R., Creek, R., Tamppari, R., Lord, T. & Sines, R.A. (1993). College biology teaching: a literature review, recommendations & a research agenda. American Biology Teacher, 55, 340-348.

Handelsman, J., Ebert-May, D., Beichner, R., Bruns, P., Chang, A., DeHaan, R. & others. (2004). Scientific teaching. Science, 304, 521-522.

Klein, P.D. (1999). Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing-to- learn. Educational Psychology Review, 11, 203-270.

MacKenzie, A.H. & Gardner, A. (2006). Beyond the lab report: why we must en- courage more writing in biology. American Biology Teacher, 68, 325-327.

Madigan, C. (1987). Writing as a means, not an end. Journal of College Science Teaching, 16, 245-249.

Martin, B.E. & Brouwer, W. (1991). The sharing of personal science and the narrative element in science education. Science Education, 75, 707-722.

Moore, R. (1994a). Writing as a tool for learning biology. BioScience, 44, 613- 617.

Moore, R. (1994b). Writing to learn biology. Journal of College Science Teaching, 23, 289-295.

National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Nelson, N. (2001). Writing to learn: one theory, two rationales. In P. Tynjala, L. Mason & K. Lonka (Eds.), Studies in Writing, Volume 7. Writing as a Learning Tool: Integrating Theory and Practice (pp. 23-36). Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic.

Robinson, J.A. & Hawpe, L. (1986). Narrative thinking as a heuristic process. In T.R. Sarbin (Ed,), Narrative Psychology: The Storied Nature of Human Conduct (pp, 111-125). New York, NY: Praeger.

Scouller, K. (1998). The influence of assessment method on students' learning approaches: multiple choice question examination versus assignment essay. Higher Education, 35, 453-472.

Stoddart, R.M. & McKinley, M.J. (2006). Using narratives, literature, and primary sources to teach introductory psychology: an interdisciplinary approach. In D.S. Dunn & S.L. Chew (Eds.), Best Practices for Teaching Introduction to Psychology (pp. 111-128). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Tynjala P. (2001). Writing, learning and the development of expertise in higher education. In P. Tynjala, L. Mason & K. Lonka (Eds.), Studies in Writing, Volume Z Writing as a Learning Tool: Integrating Theory and Practice (pp. 37-56). Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic.

Walczyk, J.J. & Ramsey, L.L. (2003), Use of learner-centered instruction in college science and mathematics classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 566-584.

Williams, T.T. (1984). Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Wilson, D.S. (2005). Evolutionary social constructivism. In J. Gottschall & D.S. Wilson (Eds.), The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative (pp. 20-37). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Wilson, E.O. (2001). Introduction: life is a narrative. In E.O. Wilson (Ed.), The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2001 (pp. xiii-xx). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Wolfe, M.B.W. & Mienko, J.A. (2007). Learning and memory of factual content from narrative and expository text. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 541-564.

Young, K. & Saver, J.L. (2001). The neurology of narrative. Substance, 30(94/95), 72-84.

JOE R. CLOPTON is an instructor in the Life Sciences Department, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401; voice mail: 707-527-4999, ext. 5082
Table 1. A sample of literature with narrative accounts of biologists
engaged in research.

Book or Article                  Content


The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An     Describes Darwin's life and some of
Intimate Portrait of Charles     his work after the Beagle voyage.
Darwin and the Making of His     Illuminates his unpublished 1844
Theory of Evolution              manuscript, barnacle studies,
by David Quammen                 interactions with Wallace, and the
W.W. Norton, 2006                writing of The Origin of Species.
                                 (For more on Darwin and Wallace, see
                                 Quammen's The Song of the Dodo,
                                 winner of a Burroughs medal.)

The Beak of the Finch: A Story   An account of the Galapagos finch
of Evolution in Our Time         work led by Peter and Rosemary
by Jonathan Weiner               Grant. Measurements over many years
Alfred A. Knopf, 1994            have revealed changes by natural

Into the Jungle: Great           The nine chapters concern Darwin's
Adventures in the Search for     voyage and early work; Wallace's
Evolution                        work and communication with Darwin;
by Sean B. Carroll               Bates (mimicry); Dubois (Java Man);
Pearson Education, 2009          Andrews (dinosaurs); Alvarez (K-T
                                 boundary); Latimer (coelacanth);
                                 Allison (sickle-cell); Ruud and
                                 DeVries (icefish).

T. rex and the Crater of Doom    Begins with a vivid description of
by Walter Alvarez                the extraterrestrial impact 65
Princeton University Press,      million years ago and describes the
1997                             research that led to the acceptance
                                 of the impact theory of dinosaur

Digging Dinosaurs                An account of the search for baby
by John R. Horner and James      dinosaur fossils in Montana. Gives
Gorman                           insights into how paleontologists
Workman Publishing, 1988         locate likely sites, find fossils,
                                 and interpret their results.

Ecology & Natural History

The View from Bald Hill:         The authors describe their work at
Thirty Years in on Arizona       the Research Ranch in Arizona, a
Grassland                        control area for comparison with
by Carl E. Bock and Jane H.      adjacent grazed ranches. Considers
Bock                             fire, drought, grazing, herps,
University of California         birds, and predation on grasshoppers
Press, 2000                      and rodents.

The Hidden Forest: The           Luoma visits the Andrews
Biography of on Ecosystem        Experimental Forest in Oregon and
by Jon R. Luoma                  describes research on the old growth
Henry Holt, 1999                 ecosystem that is changing the
                                 science of forestry. Conclusion
                                 focuses on the value of large-
                                 scale, long-term studies.

Elephant Memories: Thirteen      Moss describes her early work on
Years in the Life of on          Kenya's Amboseli population, in
Elephant Family                  which all of the several hundred
by Cynthia Moss                  members are known and named.
William Morrow, 1988             Includes population dynamics, birth,
                                 death, social  relationships,
                                 mating, migration, and relations
                                 with humans; many scenes involving
                                 the individuals she knows best are

The Tapir's Morning Bath:        Royte describes Barro Colorado
Mysteries of the Tropical Rain   Island, capturing both the
Forest and the Scientists Who    complexity of the tropics and the
Are Trying to Solve Them         diverse personalities of the
by Elizabeth Royte               researchers. Details work on
Houghton Mifflin, 2001           behavior and hormones in monkeys,
                                 tent making in fruitbats, population
                                 biology of spiny rats, Lepidopteran
                                 ears and bat evasion, leafcutter ant
                                 impact on trees, flowers and their
                                 visitors, and arthropods on

Eye of the Albatross: Visions    Conveying his love of seabirds and
of Hope and Survival             the sea, Safina visits researchers
by Carl Safina                   studying the Laysan Albatross on one
Henry Holt, 2002                 of the Hawaiian Islands. One female
                                 is satellite tracked on feeding
                                 trips that sometimes cover thousands
                                 of miles.

Naturalist                       In accounts that show his values and
by Edward O. Wilson              approaches to  problems, Wilson
Island Press, 1994               describes his travels in search of
                                 ants, work on their taxonomy,
                                 biogeography and chemical
                                 communication,  Florida Keys
                                 experiment with Simberloff, work
Animal Behavior                  with MacArthur and Holldobler,
                                 synthesis of sociobiology, insights
                                 into biophilia, and efforts to
                                 preserve biodiversity.

Crickets and Katydids,           Dethier recounts collecting
Concerts and Solos               orthopterans for study of their
by Vincent G. Dethier            songs at a field lab in New
Harvard University Press, 1992   Hampshire. Conveys the knowledge,
                                 curiosity, keen senses, persistence,
                                 and luck needed to find the 41
                                 species. The focus on one behavior,
                                 group, and region teaches much about
                                 nature's richness and complexity;
                                 includes keys.

In the Shadow of Man             In his introduction, S. J. Gould
by Jane Goodall                  describes Goodall's work as "one of
Houghton Mifflin, Revised        the Western world's great scientific
Edition, 1988                    achievements." Goodall reveals her
                                 persistence through the frustration
                                 dur-ing her early work, and her
                                 eventually success in observing all
                                 aspects of their lives, giving us a
                                 valuable basis to better understand

In a Patch of Fireweed           Injecting his great curiosity and
by Bernd Heinrich                wonder, Heinrich reveals each step
Harvard University Press, 1984   of his thinking as he struggles with
                                 scientific  problems:
                                 thermoregulation in moths and bees,
                                 aggregation by whirligigs, leaf
                                 manipulation by caterpillars, and
                                 behavior of dung beetles, antlions,
                                 and wasps.

Golden Shadows, Flying Hooves    Schaller describes his study of the
by George B. Schaller            lions of the Serengeti, immersion
Alfred A. Knopf, 1973            into their lives, and methods of
                                 patient observation. He contrasts
                                 this with the rushing tourists,
                                 noting that many people are unaware
                                 of the joy of contemplation.

Curious Naturalists              This Nobelist describes his studies
by Niko Tinbergen                on caterpillar camouflage and on the
Basic Books, 1958                behavior of digger wasps, Arctic
                                 birds, falcons, and gulls. The wasp
                                 work, especially, illustrates field

Climate Change

"Butterfly lessons"              Kolbert describes how global warming
by Elizabeth Kolbert             is causing earlier reproduction and
The New Yorker                   range shifts. Visits with
Jan. 9, 2006, pp. 32-39          researchers studying distributions
                                 of butterflies, critical
                                 photoperiods in mosquitoes, and
                                 past plant migrations. Material from
                                 this and other articles is in
                                 Kolbert's Field Notes from a

Microbes & Disease

In Cold Pursuit: Medical         Details epidemiological and
Intelligence Investigates the    experimental studies on colds,
Common Cold                      including higher incidences during
by J. Barnard Gilmore            inclement weather, causation  by
Stoddart Publishing, 1998        viruses but not chilling, infections
                                 with no symptoms, transmission by
                                 aerosols versus contact with
                                 contaminated surfaces, and various
                                 unresolved issues.

"Marshall's hunch"               Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won
by Terence Monmaney              the 2005 Nobel for finding that
The New Yorker                   most peptic ulcers are caused by H.
Sept. 20, 1993, pp. 64-72        pylori and are cur able with
                                 antibiotics. Describes the initial
                                 skepticism, Marshall's swallowing of
                                 a culture, and other research.

The Discovery of the Germ:       Describes the research of Pasteur,
Twenty Years That Transformed    Lister, Koch, and others that
the Way We Think About Disease   transformed the germ theory of
by John Waller                   disease from a disputed  speculation
Columbia University Press,       into a central tenet of medicine,
2002                             overturning the previous paradigm
                                 (that illness, for example, involved
                                 "a buildup of peccant humours" and
                                 could be treated by bleeding).

Diseases (Nonmicrobial)

"The Edmonton protocol"          A method for transplanting insulin-
by Jerome Groopman               producing islet cells into diabetics
The New Yorker                   was developed in 1999 at the
Feb. 10, 2003, pp. 48-57         University of Alberta, Edmonton. But
                                 because of a shortage of donors,
                                 hope for most diabetics still lies
                                 in stem cell research.

A Change of Heart How the        Describes the study, begun in 1948,
Framingham Heart Study Helped    which led to a  preventative
Unravel the Mysteries of         approach for cardiovascular disease,
Cardiovascular Disease           changing the practice of medicine.
by Daniel Levy and Susan Brink   Describes the design of the study
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005            and the discoveries that increased
                                 blood pressure and blood
                                 cholesterol, obesity, and smoking
                                 were risk factors.


"Alexander Fleming and           Details Fleming's discovery of
antibiotics" In: Medicine's 10   penicillin and its antibacterial
Greatest Discoveries             properties; continues through the
by Meyer Friedman and Gerald     extensive studies of Florey, Chain,
Friedland                        Heatley, and colleagues that led to
Yale University Press, 1998      large scale production  for medical
                                 use. Other chapters concern anatomy,
                                 blood circulation, bacteria,
                                 vaccination, anesthesia, X rays,
                                 tissue  culture, cholesterol, and

Animal Physiology

To Know a Fly                    Dethier recounts, in an often
by Vincent G. Dethier            humorous way, his research on
Holden-Day, 1962                 hunger, thirst, and sensation in
                                 flies; provides numerous  lessons on
                                 designing physiological experiments.

Female Fertility and the Body    Frisch discusses her work on the
Fat Connection                   relationship between body fat and
by Rose E. Frisch                human reproduction. Percent body fat
University of Chicago Press,     predicts onset of menstrual cycles;
2002                             exercise lowers the risk of breast
                                 and reproductive-system cancers.
                                 Describes the roles of estrogen and

"Rethinking the brain"           Fascinated with birdsong, Fernando
by Michael Specter               Nottebohm discovered neurogenesis in
The New Yorker                   adult canary brains, overturning a
July 23, 2001, pp. 42-53         basic dogma of neuroscience. This
                                 was subsequently found in rodents
Classical Genetics               and primates by Elizabeth Gould.
                                 Research is now aimed at medical

Gregor Mendel: Planting the      Summarizes Mendel's life and work
Seeds of Genetics                and captures the embryonic  state of
by Simon Mawer                   cellular biology in his time.
Harry N. Abrams, 2006            Previous research had revealed
(companion to an exhibit)        dominance and recessiveness but fell
                                 short of his quantitative approach.
                                 Summarizes experiments year by year
                                 and explains what Mendel did and did
                                 not know and discover, clarifying
                                 recent textbook accounts.

"Inside the cell: chromosomes    Part IV of this book describes
and genes"                       research on heredity after Mendel:
In: Blueprints-Solving the       Weismann and Boveri (chromosomes),
Mystery of Evolution             Morgan, Sturtevant, and Muller
by Maitland A. Edey and          (Drosophilo), and also the merging
Donald C. Johanson               of genetics and evolution into the
Little, Brown, 1989              modern synthesis.

"Lord of the flies"              Describes the career of Seymour
by Jonathan Weiner               Benzes; known for simple but
The New Yorker                   pioneering experiments in Drosophilu
April 5, 1999, pp. 44-51         behavioral genetics. He and his
                                 students found genes for clocks,
                                 mating, learning, memory, brain
                                 degeneration, and longevity.
                                 Relevance to humans is noted.

Molecular Genetics

"Inside the chromosome: DNA      Part V of this book includes
and RNA"                         Miescher (separation of nuclei from
In: Blueprints-Solving the       cells and chemical analysis of DNA),
Mystery of Evolution             Beadle and Tatum (Neurosporo),
by Maitland A. Edey and          Griffith and Avery (bacterial
Donald C. Johanson               transformation), Watson, Crick,
Little, Brown, 1989              Franklin et al. (DNA), Crick et al.
                                 (genetic code), Meselson, Stahl, and
                                 Kornberg (DNA).

"Rosalind Elsie Franklin"        Describes Franklin's life and
In: Nobel Prize Women in         research on coal, DNA, and RNA
Science: Their Lives,            viruses. Details DNA work with
Struggles, and Momentous         Gosling, the roles of Wilkins,
Discoveries                      Watson, and Crick, their different
by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne       personalities, and the inter actions
National Academy Press, 1998     among them. Other chapters cover
                                 Elion (drugs), Levi-Montalcini
                                 (nerve growth factor), Nusslein-
                                 Volhard (development), McClintock
                                 (genetics), and Yalow

Francis Crick: Discoverer of     Details the work on DNA with Watson,
the Genetic Code                 including fascinating anecdotes.
by Matt Ridley                   Also covers genetic code research
HarperCollins, 2006              and studies on the brain and

DNA: The Secret of Life          An overview of half a century of
by James D. Watson with Andrew   molecular genetics. Watson discusses
Berry                            his early work, including that on
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003            DNA. Other topics include RNA, gene
                                 regulation, recombinant DNA
                                 technology, products and related
                                 patent and profit issues, insertion
                                 of genes into plants, agricultural
                                 applications, Human Genome Project,
                                 genomics, proteomics,
                                 transcriptomics, and many

Genetic Engineering

Glowing Genes: A Revolution in   Describes work on green fluorescent
Biotechnology                    protein (GFP) and aequorin--first
by Marc Zimmer                   isolated from jellyfish. Describes
Prometheus Books, 2005           the sequencing, cloning, and
                                 expression of the GFP gene in E.
                                 coli and C. elegens, use of GFP in
                                 cellular research, GFP color
                                 mutants, and applications.

A Broad Collection
Doing Biology                    The 17 chapters concern Kettlewell
by Joel B. Hagen, Douglas        and natural selection; Whittaker's
Allchin, and Fred Singer         five-kingdom system; Margulis and
HarperCollins, 1996              endosymbiosis; Stevens and sex
                                 chromosomes; Morgan's mutants; Avery
                                 and bacterial transformation; Krebs
                                 and respiration; Mitchell and
                                 chemiosmosis; Cannon and
                                 homeostasis; Selye and stress;
                                 Eijkman and beriberi; science and
                                 acupuncture; Burnet and antibodies;
                                 Tinbergen and sticklebacks; Hardy,
                                 Weinberg, Haldane and population
                                 genetics; Simpson and biogeography;
                                 and Carson and Silent Spring.

Book or Article                  Reviews & Recognition a


The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An     Am Sci 94: 564
Intimate Portrait of Charles     NYTBR 8/27/06, p. 7
Darwin and the Making of His     Science 314: 1086
Theory of Evolution
by David Quammen
W.W. Norton, 2006

The Beak of the Finch: A Story   BioSci 45: 222
of Evolution in Our Time         Nature 371: 27
by Jonathan Weiner               New Sci 8/13/94, p. 39
Alfred A. Knopf, 1994            NYTBR 5/22/94, p. 7
                                 Morrison list
                                 Pulitzer Prize

Into the Jungle: Great           ABT 71: 375.
Adventures in the Search for
by Sean B. Carroll
Pearson Education, 2009

T. rex and the Crater of Doom    Nature 387: 33
by Walter Alvarez                New Sci 8/16/97, p. 40
Princeton University Press,

Digging Dinosaurs                Am Sci 77: 381
by John R. Horner and James      Nature 338: 552
Gorman                           NYTBR 12/25/88, p. 11
Workman Publishing, 1988         Morrison list

Ecology & Natural History

The View from Bald Hill:
Thirty Years in on Arizona
by Carl E. Bock and Jane H.
University of California
Press, 2000

The Hidden Forest: The           Am Sci 88: 78
Biography of on Ecosystem        Audubon 7/99, p. 124
by Jon R. Luoma                  Not Hist 7/99, p. 60
Henry Holt, 1999

Elephant Memories: Thirteen      Am Sci 77: 190
Years in the Life of on          Not Hist 3/88, p. 80
Elephant Family
by Cynthia Moss
William Morrow, 1988             Nature 334: 480
                                 NYTBR 3/27/88, p. 10

The Tapir's Morning Bath:        Am Sci 90: 79
Mysteries of the Tropical Rain   New Sci 11/3/0 1, p. 54
Forest and the Scientists Who    NYTBR 10/7/01, p. 15
Are Trying to Solve Them
by Elizabeth Royte
Houghton Mifflin, 2001           Science 294: 1289

Eye of the Albatross: Visions    Am Sci 90:378
of Hope and Survival             Not Hist 5/02, p. 90
by Carl Safina                   NYRB 10/10/04, p. 4
Henry Holt, 2002                 NYTBR 9/8/02, p. 18
                                 Burroughs Medal
                                 NAC Award

Naturalist                       Am Sci 84: 74
by Edward O. Wilson              BioSci 45: 792
Island Press, 1994               Not Hist 12/94, p. 80
                                 Nature 372: 291
                                 New Sci 2/4/95, p. 42
                                 NYTBR 10/16/94, p. 15
                                 Science 266: 1261
Animal Behavior

Crickets and Katydids,           Ecology 75: 860
Concerts and Solos               New Sci 11/21/92, p.41
by Vincent G. Dethier            Q Rev Biol 68: 598
Harvard University Press, 1992   Smithsonian 12/92, p. 147
                                 Burroughs Medal

In the Shadow of Man             NYTBR 12/3/72, p. 6
by Jane Goodall                  SciAm 12/71, p. 106
Houghton Mifflin, Revised        Morrison list
Edition, 1988

In a Patch of Fireweed           BioSci 35: 510
by Bernd Heinrich                NYTBR 4/84, p. 16
Harvard University Press, 1984   Heinrich won a
                                 Burroughs Medal for
                                 Mind of the Raven

Golden Shadows, Flying Hooves    NYTBR 11/11173, p. 10
by George B. Schaller
Alfred A. Knopf, 1973

Curious Naturalists
by Niko Tinbergen
Basic Books, 1958

Climate Change

"Butterfly lessons"              Reprinted in BASW2007
by Elizabeth Kolbert             Kolbert won an NAC
The New Yorker                   Award for "The climate of
Jan. 9, 2006, pp. 32-39          man" articles

Microbes & Disease

In Cold Pursuit: Medical
Intelligence Investigates the
Common Cold
by J. Barnard Gilmore
Stoddart Publishing, 1998

"Marshall's hunch"
by Terence Monmaney
The New Yorker
Sept. 20, 1993, pp. 64-72

The Discovery of the Germ:
Twenty Years That Transformed
the Way We Think About Disease
by John Waller
Columbia University Press,

Diseases (Nonmicrobial)

"The Edmonton protocol"
by Jerome Groopman
The New Yorker
Feb. 10, 2003, pp. 48-57

A Change of Heart How the        Nature 435: 428
Framingham Heart Study Helped    Science 309: 1679
Unravel the Mysteries of
Cardiovascular Disease
by Daniel Levy and Susan Brink
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005


"Alexander Fleming and           HistSci 37: 113
antibiotics" In: Medicine's 10   New Sci 5/1/99, p. 54
Greatest Discoveries
by Meyer Friedman and Gerald
Yale University Press, 1998

Animal Physiology

To Know a Fly
by Vincent G. Dethier
Holden-Day, 1962

Female Fertility and the Body    New Sci 7/20/02, p. 52
Fat Connection                   Science 299: 827
by Rose E. Frisch
University of Chicago Press,

"Rethinking the brain"           Reprinted in BASW2002
by Michael Specter
The New Yorker
July 23, 2001, pp. 42-53

Classical Genetics

Gregor Mendel: Planting the      Nature 444: 148 (exhibit)
Seeds of Genetics                Science 314: 1685
by Simon Mawer                   (exhibit)
Harry N. Abrams, 2006
(companion to an exhibit)

"Inside the cell: chromosomes    NYTBR 4/9/89, p. 34
and genes"                       Q Rev Biol 66: 328
In: Blueprints-Solving the
Mystery of Evolution
by Maitland A. Edey and
Donald C. Johanson
Little, Brown, 1989

"Lord of the flies"              Reprinted in BASW2000
by Jonathan Weiner
The New Yorker
April 5, 1999, pp. 44-51

Molecular Genetics

"Inside the chromosome: DNA      NYTBR 4/9/89, p. 34
and RNA"                         Q Rev Biol 66: 328
In: Blueprints-Solving the
Mystery of Evolution
by Maitland A. Edey and
Donald C. Johanson
Little, Brown, 1989

"Rosalind Elsie Franklin"
In: Nobel Prize Women in
Science: Their Lives,
Struggles, and Momentous
by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne
National Academy Press, 1998

Francis Crick: Discoverer of     ABT69: 120
the Genetic Code                 Nature 443: 917
by Matt Ridley                   New Sci 11/4/06, p. 53
HarperCollins, 2006              NYTBR 7/30/06, p. 5
                                 Science 313: 1891

DNA: The Secret of Life          ABT 66:654
by James D. Watson with Andrew   Am Sci 91: 354
Berry                            Nature 422: 809
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003            New Sci 4/26/03, p. 52
                                 NYRB 5/1/03, p. 39
                                 NYTBR 6/15/03, p. 11
                                 Science 300: 432

Genetic Engineering

Glowing Genes: A Revolution in   ABT 67:570
Biotechnology                    J Chem Ed 83: 215
by Marc Zimmer                   0RevBiol80:473
Prometheus Books, 2005

A Broad Collection
Doing Biology                    ART 61: 310
by Joel B. Hagen, Douglas
Allchin, and Fred Singer
HarperCollins, 1996

(a) ABT =American Biology Teacher. Am Sci =American Scientist.
BASNW = The Best American Science and Nature Writing (B. Bilger,
series editor). BASW =The  Best American Science Writing (J.
Cohen, series editor). Hist Sci = History of Science. J Chem Ed =
Journal of Chemical Education. Morrison list = Morrison, Philip &
Morrison, Phylis. 1999. 100 or so books that shaped a century of
science. American Scientist, 87, 543-553. NAC Award = National
Academies Communication  Award. NYRB = The New York Review of
Books. New Sci = New Scientist. NYTBR = New York Times Book
Review. 0 Rev Biol = Quarterly Review of Biology.
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