Andrew Read named Alumni Professor in the Biological Sciences

February 09, 2012

Andrew F. Read, a professor of biology and entomology at Penn State, has been named the Alumni Professor in the Biological Sciences. Read perhaps is best known for his research on how natural selection shapes the virulence of malaria and how the "unnatural" selection imposed by medicine shapes the evolution of disease-causing organisms. This evolution causes drugs to fail and can create "super-bugs" that are resistant to pharmaceuticals. Since evolutionary responses to drugs, insecticides, and vaccines are the main causes of problems in preventing and treating infectious diseases, Read sees potential to use an improved understanding of pathogen evolution to inform public-health decisions.

Read also is working to generate evolution-proof,  antimalaria technology. He and Penn State entomologist Matt Thomas recently discovered that fungal biopesticides used against locusts could also be used against mosquitoes. The biopesticides massively reduced malaria transmission in the lab. Read is interested in ways to exploit the evolutionary theory of aging to avoid the evolution of resistant mosquitoes.

Read is the director of Penn State's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. He has been honored for his research achievements with an Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin fellowship in 2006, a Royal Society of Edinburgh fellowship in 2003, and a scientific medal from the Zoological Society of London in 1999. He has served on the scientific advisory boards for the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Cambridge, as well as on other international scientific committees. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Trends in Ecology and Evolution and Evolutionary Applications and he is a senior editor of the new journal Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health. Read has co-authored more than 160 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, PLoS Biology, Evolution, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Before joining Penn State in 2007, Read was at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, where he was the 13th Professor of Natural History, an endowed Chair established in 1767. He was an adjunct professor in evolutionary ecology at the University of Tromso in Norway from 1992 to 1997, and a lecturer in zoology at St. Catherine's College at Oxford University in the United Kingdom from 1989 to 1990. He earned a doctoral degree in evolutionary biology at the University of Oxford in 1989 and a bachelor's degree with honors in zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1984.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015