Mindell, David P.

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Mindell, David P.


Married; wife's name Margaret; children: two. Education: Prescott College, B.S., 1975; West Virginia University, M.S., 1978; Brigham Young University, Ph.D., 1986.


Home— MI. Office— University of Michigan, 3013 Museums Building, 1109 Geddes Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079. E-mail— [email protected].


University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of biology, and adjunct curator of birds, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, 1989-1994; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, began as assistant professor, became professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and curator of birds, Museum of Zoology, 1994—, Genomic Diversity Laboratory, director, 1998—, Museum of Zoology, interim director, 2002-2003, Museum of Zoology and Herbarium, director, 2003-2005.


George S. Wise postdoctoral fellowship, Tel Aviv University, 1986; Harvard University, postdoctoral fellow, 1987-1988; Young Investigator Award, Sigma Xi, University of Cincinnati, 1993; Excellence in Research Award, University of Michigan, 1999; Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship, Harvard University, 2006-2007.


Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, Academic Press (San Diego, CA), 1997.

The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Member of editorial boards of professional journals, including Israel Journal of Zoology, Infection, Genetics and Evolution, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and BMC Evolutionary Biology.


David P. Mindell, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan and curator of birds the university's Museum of Zoology, aims to explain basic principles of evolution in his book The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life. Intended for general readers, the book focuses on how evolution applies to everyday life, and, as explained on Mindell's faculty page, seeks to demonstrate that "understanding and application of evolutionary science has become indispensable in modern societies." Examples include domestication of wild animals for use in agriculture; immunization campaigns against pathogens; conservation measures to protect diversity of species and ensure healthy ecosystems; use of DNA evidence in the legal system; and education.

Walter L. Cressler, writing in Library Journal, described the book as a "welcome but somewhat encyclopedic" work that gives little attention to contemporary attacks on evolutionary biology from cultural critics and the religious right-wing. In Cressler's view, the discussion of the role of evolution in the court system constitutes the book's strongest section, while Mindell's use of evolution as a metaphor for human cultural change feels overstated. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly, noting that the book introduces little that is new, deemed the volume "solid but unremarkable."

Professor of integrative biology David R. Lindberg, on the other hand, expressed a far more positive assessment of the book in his review for BioScience. Mindell, Lindberg wrote, understands "how evolution operates, as well as the implications of denying its role in comprehending our past, present, and future." His approach in The Evolving World, in Lindberg's view, makes the book highly useful, providing examples of evolutionary processes "that range from the ecosystem to the genome." The critic praised Mindell for explaining "historical settings, biogeographical context, and timing of [evolutionary] events in the history of life," noting that this "depth of exploration … engages the reader, and the diversity of the subjects provides something for anyone interested in biology and other historical questions." The critic particularly admired Mindell's discussion of evolution and conservation, and his examination of how linguistic developments—particularly in religious texts" shed light on elements of evolutionary change in human societies. Lindberg concluded by pointing out the book's value to students and teachers. "There is no doubt that middle and high school science and biology teachers will greatly benefit from reading this book," he stated, adding that he hoped that examples from The Evolving World would soon be adapted to classrooms at all grade levels.

Mindell has also edited Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, a collection of thirteen scholarly papers described by S. Blair Hedges in an American Zoologist review as a "well-edited volume that will be of interest to many ornithologists and molecular systematists."



American Zoologist, February, 1998, S. Blair Hedges, review of Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, p. 262.

BioScience, July 1, 2007, David R. Lindberg, "Understanding Evolution," p. 627.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November, 1997, review of Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, p. 509; October, 2006, E.B. Hazard, review of The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life, p. 319.

Condor, February, 1999, Douglas D. Rhoads, review of Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, p. 189.

Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution, Volume 60, number 12, Greg Gibson, review of The Evolving World, pp. 2661-2662.

Library Journal, May 15, 2006, Walter L. Cressler, review of The Evolving World, p. 127.

Nature, August 31, 2006, Jerry A. Coyne, review of The Evolving World, p. 983.

Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2006, review of The Evolving World, p. 146.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 1998, Axel Meyer, review of Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, p. 363; December, 2006, William Montgomery, review of The Evolving World, p. 395.

Science News, May 20, 2006, review of The Evolving World, p. 319.

SciTech Book News, September, 1997, review of Avian Molecular Evolution and Systematics, p. 46.

Times Literary Supplement, January 19, 2007, Simon Conway Morris, "Universal Acid?," p. 6; January 31, 2007, Daniel Dennett, response to review by Simon Conway Morris.

Washington Post, April 17, 1995, "Biology: Evolving Theories on Origin of AIDS," p. 2.


Pharyngula,http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/ (January 9, 2008), review of The Evolving World.

2Think,http://www.2think.org/ (October 23, 2007), review of The Evolving World.

University of Michigan, Alumni Association Web site,http://alumni.umich.edu/ (October 23, 2007).

University of Michigan, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department Web site,http://www.lsa.umich.edu/ (October 23, 2007).