Chair

An evolutionary geneticist, Günter P. Wagner is Alison Richard Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. He studies the evolutionary dynamics of complex adaptive systems. His empirical work has focused on the evolution of gene regulation as it pertains to the origin of evolutionary novelties. His research utilizes both the theoretical tools of population genetics and the experimental approaches of evolutionary developmental biology. He has contributed substantially to the current understanding of the evolvability of complex organisms, the origin of novel characters, and modularity—the conjectural idea that many organisms consist of modules, both anatomically and in their metabolism. Dr. Wagner’s early training was in biochemical engineering at the collegiate level and then in zoology and mathematics at the University of Vienna, where he went on to take his Ph.D. in theoretical population genetics in 1979. After postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institutes in Göttingen and in Tübingen, as well as at the University of Göttingen, he returned to the University of Vienna in 1985 as an assistant professor of theoretical biology and was made an associate professor in 1990. He moved on to Yale as a professor of biology the next year. He served as the founding chair of Yale’s Department of Ecology and Evolution from 1997 to 2002 and then as chair again from 2005 to 2008. He has been a visiting fellow at the Leiden University and gave the Gomperz Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1993, the Koopmans Distinguished Lecture at IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) Vienna in 1995, and the Sewall Wright Lecture at the University of Chicago in 1996. Awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “genius prize,” in 1992, Dr. Wagner received the Humboldt Prize for research in biology in 2005. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular Development and Evolution, he serves on the editorial boards of Evolution and Cognition, Theory in Biosciences, Evolution and Development, Biology and Philosophy, Evolutionary Biology, and Philosophy and Theory in Biology. Dr. Wagner is the author of some 200 scientific papers and the editor of The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology (2000). His most recent book, edited with Gerhard Schlosser, is Modularity in Development and Evolution, which was published in 2004 by the University of Chicago Press.