Stephen C. Stearns

Stephen C. Stearns

Stephen C. Stearns (born December 12, 1946, in Kapaau, Hawaii) is an American biologist, the Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. He is known for his work in life history theory and evolutionary medicine.[1]

Education and training

Stearns graduated from Yale University in 1967 and went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a masters degree, and the University of British Columbia, where he did his PhD. Before joining the Yale faculty in 2000, he served as Professor of Zoology and Director of the Zoology Institute at the University of Basel.[1] At Yale he chaired the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from 2002 to 2005.

Stearns helped to found the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) in 1987.[2] He later served on its Council and as its President. He also founded the Journal of Evolutionary Biology,[3] ESEB's main journal,[2] served as its first managing editor from 1986 to 1991, and later served on its Editorial Board. (According to Stearns, the ESEB was founded in part because Birkhäuser would not agree to a new journal unless it was backed by a society.[2])

Together with Tim Clutton-Brock, he founded the Tropical Biology Association in 1991.

In 2011-2012, he founded the online open-access journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health and created the Foundation for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.

Awards and Honors

Stearns became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1987. In addition, from 1987 to 1992 he served as director of the Zoological Institute at the University of Basel, Switzerland.[4] Stearns had been professor of zoology there since 1983. In 1993 he held the European Chair of Biology at the École normale supérieure, Paris.

In 1992, Stearns wrote The Evolution of Life Histories, now regarded as one of the key works in Life history theory with over 8700 citations.

During this time, Stearns served as vice president of the Society for the Study of Evolution (1995) as well as in administrative roles at the Tropical Biology Association. He was president from 1990-1998 and treasurer from 1998-2000. In addition, from 1994-1998, he was Chair of the European Science Foundation Program in Population Biology.

In 2000, Stearns was honored as a Distinguished Ecologist by the University of Michigan and as the Raymond Pearl Memorial Lecturer by the Human Biology Association in 2004. Stearns has also been a fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute (2005), the Rockefeller Bellagio Conference and Study Center (2005), and the Wissenschafskolleg zu Berlin (2011-2012).

Since 2005 Stearns has been an Honorary Member of the Swiss Zoological Society.[5] and since 2007 a Fellow of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology.

A book Stearns wrote with his wife Beverly Peterson Stearns, Watching, from the Edge of Extinction, was the 2000 winner of the Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications. The book features interviews from people working to save endangered species from extinction.[1]

In 2011, the Phi Beta Kappa students of Yale University gave Stearns their DeVane Medal for distinction in undergraduate teaching.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Noted zoologist Stephen Stearns is new Bass Professor", Yale Bulletin and Calendar 29 (1), September 1, 2000 .
  2. ^ a b c Stearns, S. C. (2008), "How the European Society for Evolutionary Biology and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology were founded",  .
  3. ^
  4. ^ "News: Noted zoologist Stephen Stearns is new Bass Professor". Yale Bulletin and Calendar 29 (1). September 1, 2000. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lim, Tse Yang (Spring 2011), "That wondrous feeling of learning something new: Tse Yang Lim ’11 offered these comments about his teacher, Professor Stephen Stearns, at the DeVane Award ceremony in February", Inside the Classroom: Undergraduate Teaching at Yale .

External links

  • Stearns' web site at Yale University
  • Stearns' introductory course Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior at Open Yale Courses