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"A Voice in the Wilderness: A Pioneering Biologist Explains How Evolution Can Help Us Solve Our Biggest Problems"

Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Dr. Joseph Graves | Faculty Hosts: Dr. Jeremy Van Cleve & the DEI Committee

SelfieDr. Joseph L Graves, Jr.

Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr. received his Ph.D. in Environmental, Evolutionary and Systematic Biology from Wayne State University in 1988. In 1994 he was elected a Fellow of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS.) In 2012, he was chosen as one of the “Sensational Sixty” commemorating 60 years of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Award.  In 2017, he was listed as an “Outstanding Graduates” in Biology at Oberlin College; and was an “Innovator of the Year” in US Black Engineer Magazine.

His research in the evolutionary genomics of adaptation shapes our understanding of biological aging and bacterial responses to nanomaterials. He is presently Associate Director/co-PI of the Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) Engineering Research Center of Excellence (Gen-4 ERC) funded by the National Science Foundation (2022—2027). He has published five books: A Voice in the Wilderness: A Pioneering Biologist Explains How Evolution Can Help Us Solve Our Biggest Problems, (New York: Basic Books), 2022; with Alan Goodman, Racism, Not Race: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, Columbia University Press, 2022. Racism, Not Race was named by Kirkus Reviews as “One of the Best Non-Fiction 2021” and to its “Best Books About Being Black in America 2021”; Principles and Applications of Antimicrobial Nanomaterials, (Amsterdam NE: Elsevier),  2021; The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, Rutgers University Press, 2005 and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America, Dutton Press, 2005.

He leads programs addressing underrepresentation of minorities in science. He has aided underserved youth in Greensboro via the YMCA chess program.  He has also served on the Racial Reconciliation and Justice Commission, and COVID Vaccination Task Fore of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. He also served as the science advisor to the Chicago, New Brunswick, and Methodist of Ohio Theological Seminaries through the AAAS Dialogues of Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program.

In A Voice in the Wilderness, I discuss the story of how I became the first African American evolutionary biologist.  It was a life of strife that followed me everywhere I went. I was beset by imposter syndrome, by depression, by racism, by negligence, and contempt.  And yet I persevered and became a prominent scholar in evolutionary biology.  I have helped to lead the fight against scientific racism, utilizing my science a tool to resist exploitation and change the demography of the scientific enterprise.

Check out his most recent article here!

Graves_Flyer.pdf (2.81 MB)