American Philosophical Society
Member History

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Resident (2)
2. Biological Sciences[X]
203. Evolution & Ecology, Systematics, Population Genetics, Paleontology, and Physical Anthropology[X]
1Name:  Dr. Nina G. Jablonski
 Institution:  Pennsylvania State University
 Year Elected:  2009
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  203. Evolution & Ecology, Systematics, Population Genetics, Paleontology, and Physical Anthropology
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1953
Nina G. Jablonski: Short Biographical Sketch I was born and raised in upstate New York, and owe my interest in natural history to my upbringing on a farm. I was inspired to pursue a career in the study of human evolution by documentary accounts of the famed paleontologist, Louis Leakey, who recovered important fossils of ancient humans at Olduvai Gorge in East Africa. I completed an A. B. at Bryn Mawr College with a major in biology in 1975, and then went on to complete a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Washington in 1981. I have always had an insatiable interest in reconstructing the lifestyles and appearance of extinct animals, including our ancestors. My research has focused on primate and human evolution, and in particular, on the role that changing environments have played in shaping the adaptations of primates and humans through time. I studied the anatomy and evolution of a lineage of Old World monkeys for my dissertation, and have maintained and expanded that research to consider the evolution of the whole group in relation to changes in the physical and biotic environment through time. I have been fortunate to be able to participate in paleontological field work in eastern Africa and many parts of southern and eastern Asia. I have a current paleontological field project in Yunnan Province in southwestern China that involves the exploration of a late Miocene primate-bearing site. In contrast to many of my colleagues, I enjoy the study of important aspects of primate and human evolution that are not recorded in the fossil record, including the evolution of skin. This research is challenging because it requires drawing upon diverse bodies of evidence, from anatomy and physiology to epidemiology and climatology in order to try to determine why and how evolution took the course that it did. I became interested in the specific problem of the evolution of human skin color quite by accident when, in 1991, I was asked by a colleague to give a lecture on skin. Realizing that little was known about why skin color variation existed in humans and that new data existed to shed light on the mystery, I embarked on what I thought would be a short excursion into this area of research. Nearly 20 years and many serendipitous discoveries later, the biological and social meaning of skin color has grown to be one of the main foci of research, because of its many ramifications for human health and the quality of human interactions. My research on the evolution of human skin and skin color has been done mostly in collaboration with my husband, George Chaplin. Together we have demonstrated that skin color is the product of natural selection acting to regulate levels of melanin pigment in the skin relative to levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in the environment. Melanin is a natural sunscreen that prevents the breakdown of certain essential biomolecules (in particular, the B vitamin folate, and DNA), while permitting enough UVR to enter the skin to promote the production of essential vitamin D. This research led to my being awarded in 2005 one of the first Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowships ("Guggenheims for race"), in addition to the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship. I am committed to bringing science to the public. In 2006, I published the book, Skin: A Natural History (University of California Press), that examined the evolutionary history and cultural importance of skin. I am now working on another book, on the biological and social meaning of skin color. In addition to books and popular articles, I enjoy giving lectures and interviews on human evolution. Many of these are now available in various formats on the internet. I have also collaborated on many scientific documentaries on human and primate evolution for American, European, and Asian television networks. In 2023, Nina Jablonski becaame an Atherton Professor and Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology Emerita at Pennsylvania State University.
2Name:  Dr. James W. Valentine
 Institution:  University of California, Berkeley
 Year Elected:  2009
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  203. Evolution & Ecology, Systematics, Population Genetics, Paleontology, and Physical Anthropology
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1926
 Death Date:  April 7, 2023
James W. Valentine is the Professor Emeritus of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley and the Faculty Curator Emeritus at the University of California Museum of Paleontology. He previously taught at the University of Missouri, the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. James Valentine has made important contributions to evolutionary history by combining paleontology with data from genetics, zoology, botany and other life sciences. He conducted groundbreaking research on the Cambrian Explosion and was among the first paleontologists to use molecular data to investigate the origin of major Metazoan body plans. His papers with Eldridge Moores are among the foundation documents in the plate tectonics revolution and helped establish the University of California, Davis geology department as a leader in the field. In his seminal work Evolutionary Paleoecology of the Marine Biosphere, Valentine employs a hierarchical approach to integrate studies on the environmental and climatic factors that have regulated biotic diversity, and he continues these studies today. A dedicated scholar of the life and work of Charles Darwin, Valentine has built a collection of virtually every edition of Charles Darwin in every language, including 26 of 29 British first editions. He was awarded the Paleontology Society Medal in 1996. He was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2005.
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