Geerat J. Vermeij is a Dutch-born professor of paleobiology at the University of California at Davis. Blind from the age of three, he graduated from Princeton University in 1968 and received his Ph.D. in biology from Yale University in 1971. An evolutionary biologist and paleontologist, he studies fossil and living molluscs and has published more than 250 scientific papers on subjects ranging from taxonomy to functional morphology, patterns in the history of life, invasion, the causes of extinction, and the relation between economics and evolution. His books include Evolution and Escalation: An Ecological History of Life; A Natural History of Shells; Privileged Hands; Nature: An Economic History, and The Evolutionary World: How Adaptation Explains Everything from Seashells to Civilization. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992 and the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2000. In 2006 he received the Paleontological Society Medal. He was a member of the Board of Trustees at the California Academy of Sciences from 2006-2015.

Research Interests

My research centers on the question how and in which directions evolution has proceeded as the consequence of competition- and predation-related selection. Although the focus has been on the functional morphology and history of shell-bearing molluscs, I have also worked with plants and crustaceans and have considered patterns in life's history broadly from its beginnings to the ascent of our own species. A secondary interest involves biogeography, where the focus is on how faunal dominance has changed over geological time. I have also explored fundamental parallels between economics and evolution and considered how ecosystems collapse and recover.

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Primary Section

Section 27: Evolutionary Biology