Root-Bernstein, Robert Scott 1953-

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Root-Bernstein, Robert Scott 1953-

PERSONAL: Born August 7, 1953, in Washington, DC. Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1975, Ph.D., 1980.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; fax: 517-355-5125. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, research associate, 1981–85; Veterans Administration Hospital, Brentwood, CA, research associate, 1985–87; University of California, Los Angeles, visiting associate professor of physiology, 1987; Michigan State University, East Lansing, assistant professor, 1987–89, associate professor, 1989–96, professor of physiology, 1996–.

AWARDS, HONORS: MacArthur Prize fellow, 1981–86; D.J. Ingle Memorial Writing Prize, 1988.

WRITINGS:

The Ionists: Founding Physical Chemistry, 1872–1890, University Microfilms (Ann Arbor, MI), 1981.

Discovering: Inventing and Solving Problems at the Frontiers of Scientific Knowledge, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1989.

Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, Free Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Michele Root-Bernstein) Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels: The Science behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

(With Michele Root-Bernstein) Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World's Most Creative People, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

ADAPTATIONS: The book Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels was adapted as an audiobook.

SIDELIGHTS: Robert Scott Root-Bernstein is a physiology professor who examined the creative thinking process of scientists in Discovering: Inventing and Solving Problems at the Frontiers of Scientific Knowledge. Using a cast of six fictional characters who debate issues among themselves, Discovering argues that scientific breakthroughs are usually made by maverick researchers who employ idiosyncratic methods. "Science can never be organized like an assembly line," says one of Root-Bernstein's characters, quoted by Lee Dembart in the Los Angeles Times. "Unlike industry, [science] must strive for maximum diversity, not maximum uniformity." Reviewers praised Discovering as a valuable tool for understanding scientific creativity. Although Dembart noted that Root-Bernstein values individuality to the point where the author "makes it seem that every crackpot is right," Dembart nonetheless wrote that the book "is a work of great insight and sweep, and it should be the manifesto of great changes in education and science." Offering similar approval was Chicago Tribune contributor Peter Gorner, who found Discovering to be a "fascinating and deeply researched book" that "never fails to entertain."

Root-Bernstein once told CA: "The late Miss Dyer of the Santa Monica Public Library introduced me to Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth when I was a child. Like Milo in the book, I have dedicated myself to the 'impossible' task of returning harmony and beauty to the fragmented world of numbers, letters, and the arts. I still recommend the book to all my friends, whatever their ages."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Biology Teacher, April, 1992, Maura C. Flannery, review of Discovering: Inventing and Solving Problems at the Frontiers of Scientific Knowledge, p. 244; June, 1999, Edward J. Kormondy, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels: The Science behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales, p. 468.

American Scientist, July, 2000, Thomas L. Isenhour, review of Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World's Most Creative People, p. 370.

Booklist, September, 1997, William Beatty, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 191; January 1, 2000, Bryce Christensen, review of Sparks of Genius, p. 836.

Chicago Tribune, November 15, 1989; April 4, 1993.

Choice, March, 1990, review of Discovering, p. 1172; September, 1993, R.H. Davis, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 164; September, 2000, R.M. Davis, review of Sparks of Genius, p. 224.

Commentary, July, 1993, Michael Fumento, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 58.

Contemporary Sociology, January, 1994, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 142.

Economist, September 20, 1997.

Endeavor, March 1, 2000.

GQ: Gentleman's Quarterly, November, 1993.

Issues in Science and Technology, fall, 1993, Wanda K. Jones and James W. Curran, review of Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 80.

JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, May 13, 1998, Armand Lione, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 1494.

Journal of Chemical Education, November, 1990, George B. Kauffman, review of Discovering, p. A292.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1997, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 1291; November 1, 1999, review of Sparks of Genius, p. 1727.

Lambda Book Report, May, 1993, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 45.

Lancet, October 11, 1997, Bertie Bregman, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 1111.

Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Natalie Kupferberg, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 83; January 7, 2000, Elizabeth Goeters, review of Sparks of Genius, p. 138.

Los Angeles Times, January 9, 1990, Lee Dembart, review of Discovering; November 23, 1997, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 23, 1997.

National Review, June 21, 1993, Stephen C. Joseph, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 70.

Natural History, October, 1997, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 10.

Nature, July 1, 1999, Rima D. Apple, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 33.

New England Journal of Medicine, January 6, 1994, Deborah J. Cotton, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 71.

New Scientist, March 17, 1990, Antony Anderson, review of Discovering, p. 66; January 31, 1998, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 42.

New Technical Books, March, 1990, review of Discovering, p. 360.

New York Times Book Review, January 28, 1990, Marcia Barusiak, review of Discovering, p. 24; September 22, 1991, review of Discovering, p. 58.

Physics Today, December, 1990, Stanley Goldberg, review of Discovering, p. 68.

Publishers Weekly, September 22, 1997, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 60; November 22, 1999, review of Sparks of Genius, p. 49.

Rapport: Modern Guide to Books, Music, and More (annual), 2000, review of Sparks of Genius, p. 34.

Reference and Research Book News, February, 1990, review of Discovering, p. 35; February, 1998, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 157.

Research-Technology Management, September-October, 1990, review of Discovering, p. 53.

Science Books and Films, May, 1990, review of Discovering, p. 242; June, 1993, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 140.

Sci-Tech Book News, May, 1993, review of Rethinking AIDS, p. 25.

Technology and Culture, January, 1991, Nathan Rein-gold, review of Discovering, p. 177.

Times Literary Supplement, March 9-15, 1990, Barry Barnes, review of Discovering, p. 259.

Washington Post Book World, April 25, 1993; January 11, 1998, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 6.

Whole Earth, spring, 1994, Philip Sharman, review of Discovering, p. 13; winter, 1997, Peter Warshall, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 94.

World and I, March, 1998, David Hicks, review of Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, p. 292.

ONLINE

Robert Scott Root-Bernstein Home Page, http://www.msu.edu/∼rootbern (March 21, 2006).