Jonathan B. Losos

Washington University in St. Louis

Primary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2018)


Jonathan Losos is an evolutionary ecologist known for his integrative approach to the study of evolutionary diversification, spanning field and laboratory studies of rapid evolution, behavior, ecology and phylogenetics, with a special emphasis on Anolis lizards. Born and raised in Saint Louis, Losos graduated from Harvard University in 1984 and received his PhD from the University of California in 1989. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at UC Davis, Losos came to Washington University for his first faculty position, before leaving in 2006 to become a professor of biology at Harvard and Curator in Herpetology at the university’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. He returned to Washington University in 2018 to be the founding director of the Living Earth Collaborative, a partnership between Washington University, the Saint Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Losos has written two books, most recently Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution (Penguin Random House, 2017), and is an author of a leading college biology textbook (Raven et al., Biology). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and is the recipient of the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal, the Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize, the Edward O. Wilson Naturalist Award, and the David Starr Jordan Prize.

Research Interests

Jonathan Losos is an evolutionary ecologist whose research take a multi-disciplinary, integrative approach to understanding evolutionary diversification. Focusing on the diversity of lizards in the genus Anolis, Losos combines studies of ecology, behavior, functional morphology and systematics to address why the evolutionary radiation of anoles (400+ species) has been so successful and how particular species adapt to their environments. To address these questions, Losos and colleagues conduct experimental studies of evolution in nature, sequence genomes, observe animals in their natural habitats to study behavior and ecology, and bring lizards into the laboratory for biomechanical, physiological and developmental studies.

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