Steve Jones (biologist)
John Stephen Jones is a Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

A geneticist is a biologist who studies genetics, the science of genes, heredity, and variation of organisms. A geneticist can be employed as a researcher or lecturer. Some geneticists perform experiments and analyze data to interpret the inheritance of skills. A geneticist is also a Consultant or...

 and from 1995 to 1999 and 2008 to June 2010 was Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. His studies are conducted in the Galton Laboratory
Galton Laboratory
The Galton Laboratory, was a laboratory for research into human genetics based at University College London in London, United Kingdom. It was originally established in 1904, and became part of UCL's biology department in 1996....

. He is also a television presenter and a prize-winning author on the subject of biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, especially evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

. He is one of the contemporary popular writers on evolution. In 1996 his writing won him the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 Michael Faraday Prize
Michael Faraday Prize
The Michael Faraday Prize is awarded by the Royal Society of London for "excellence in communicating science to UK audiences". Named after Michael Faraday, the medal itself is made of silver gilt, and is accompanied by a purse of £2500...

 "for his numerous, wide ranging contributions to the public understanding of science
Public understanding of science
Public understanding of science may refer to:* Public Understanding of Science , an academic journal* Public awareness of science...

 in areas such as human evolution and variation, race, sex, inherited disease and genetic manipulation through his many broadcasts on radio and television, his lectures, popular science
Popular science
Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is broad-ranging, often written by scientists as well as journalists, and is presented in many...

 books, and his regular science column in The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

and contributions to other newspaper media".

Early life

Jones was born in Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth is a historic market town, administrative centre and holiday resort within Ceredigion, Wales. Often colloquially known as Aber, it is located at the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol....

, Wales, to Thomas Gwilym Jones and Lydia Anne Jones, his parents having met as students at the University of Aberystwyth. Until he was about ten years old the family were accommodated alternately at his paternal grandparents' house in New Quay and his maternal grandparents' house near Aberystwyth. Later the family moved to the Wirral
Wirral Peninsula
Wirral or the Wirral is a peninsula in North West England. It is bounded by three bodies of water: to the west by the River Dee, forming a boundary with Wales, to the east by the River Mersey and to the north by the Irish Sea. Both terms "Wirral" and "the Wirral" are used locally , although the...

, because of his father's work, and they returned to Wales for their holidays. Jones was a pupil at Wirral Grammar School for Boys
Wirral Grammar School for Boys
Wirral Grammar School for Boys, founded in 1931, is situated on Cross Lane, Bebington, on the Wirral Peninsula in England.-Admissions:It is a foundation school, located within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral and requires all potential pupils to take, and pass, the eleven plus exam exam prior to...


Jones' paternal grandparents lived in New Quay
New Quay
New Quay is a seaside town in Ceredigion, West Wales with a resident population of around 1,200 people. Located on Cardigan Bay with a harbour and large sandy beaches, it remains a popular seaside resort and traditional fishing town.-History:...

, Ceredigion
Ceredigion is a county and former kingdom in mid-west Wales. As Cardiganshire , it was created in 1282, and was reconstituted as a county under that name in 1996, reverting to Ceredigion a day later...

, Wales. His paternal grandfather and great grandfather were both sea captains. His father was a PhD chemist and worked on detergents. Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer, Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 January 2008. who wrote exclusively in English. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, which he often performed himself...

 was an acquaintance of his father. As a child Jones often stayed at his paternal grandparents' home and spent a lot of his time in the attic which contained some seafaring equipment, and boxes of books covering a wide variety of topics, many of which Jones read.

Jones' maternal grandparents lived in Bow Street, Ceredigion
Bow Street, Ceredigion
Bow Street is a large village in the Tirymynach district of Ceredigion, Wales, approximately north-east of Aberystwyth. As well as Bow Street itself, it is now often considered to include the neighbouring smaller village of Pen-y-garn and the hamlet of Rhydypennau...

, near Aberystwyth. Jones spoke a lot of Welsh until he was 6 or 7 years old, and at that time many people in the locality preferred to speak Welsh, some speaking Welsh only. The Welsh Presbyterian church was the centre of the community, and Jones' great grandfather, William Morgan, was an incumbent
Incumbent (ecclesiastical)
In Anglican canon law, the incumbent of a benefice, usually the parish priest, holds the temporalities or assets and income.Depending on the terms of governance of each parish an incumbent might be either:...

 at the church for about 40 years. Jones' grandparent's were strongly Presbyterian and spoke both English and Welsh, but preferred to speak Welsh. His grandfather, John James Morgan, was a school headmaster and used to take Jones on long walks in the countryside, as well as play chess with him. His mother Nancy was one of nine siblings, and Jones was often surrounded by relatives. Jones and a cousin spent a lot of time playing in the countryside on a local earth mound surrounded by a ditch and an outer wall, the remains of an ancient Norman
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 castle. As an 8-year-old child he thought it was a pre-Christian Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 fort, and imagined it was where his Celtic ancestors might have lived. Jones observed the wildlife in the area and was particularly interested in birds.


Jones has BSc, PhD and DSc degrees from the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 together with a variety of honorary degrees. Much of his research has been concerned with snail
Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

s and the light their anatomy can shed on biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 and genetics. His book In the Blood explores, confirms and debunks some commonly held beliefs about inheritance and genetics. Topics explored include issues as diverse as "lost tribes", European royal families, and haemophilia
Haemophilia is a group of hereditary genetic disorders that impair the body's ability to control blood clotting or coagulation, which is used to stop bleeding when a blood vessel is broken. Haemophilia A is the most common form of the disorder, present in about 1 in 5,000–10,000 male births...


Professor Jones is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association
British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes Humanism and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." The BHA is committed to secularism, human rights, democracy, egalitarianism and mutual respect...

. He was awarded the second Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year
Secularist of the Year
The Secularist of the Year award is presented annually to the individual considered to have made the greatest contribution to secularism in the previous year by the UK's National Secular Society. The prize is a cheque for £5000; it was first awarded in 2005, and is sponsored by Dr...

 by the National Secular Society
National Secular Society
The National Secular Society is a British campaigning organisation that promotes secularism and the separation of church and state. It holds that no-one should gain advantage or disadvantage because of their religion or lack of religion. It was founded by Charles Bradlaugh in 1866...

 on 7 October 2006. On 1 January 2011 he became President of The Association for Science Education. In June that year it was announced he would join the professoriate of New College of the Humanities
New College of the Humanities
New College of the Humanities is a proposed new private for-profit undergraduate college in London, England, the creation of which was announced in June 2011 by the philosopher A.C. Grayling, its founder and first master...

, a private college in London.

Human evolution

Jones' view that in humans "Natural selection has to some extent been repealed"
dates back at least to 1991 and has been the focus of a number of newspaper reports and radio interviews.
His views are largely based on his claim that reduced juvenile mortality, decreasing age of fathers, and greater interconnectedness of populations in Western societies reduce evolution. Both the data supporting these assertions and his views of the way these factors influence evolution in populations have been extensively criticised by other academics.


Jones has stated that creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

 is "anti-science" and criticised creationists such as Ken Ham
Ken Ham
Kenneth Alfred Ham is the Australian President/CEO of Answers in Genesis USA. He is a vocal advocate for a young Earth and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis, and his cross-country speaking tours and many books make him one of the better known young-Earth...

. Jones suggested in a BBC Radio Ulster interview in 2006 that Creationists should be disallowed from being medical doctors because "all of its (Creationism's) claims fly in the face of the whole of science" and he further claimed that no serious biologist can believe in biblical creation. For Jones, 'evolution is the grammar of biology'. Jones elaborated on his full position on creationism in a public lecture entitled 'Why creationism is wrong and evolution is right'.

Private education

In an interview on the BBC Radio 5
BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live is the BBC's national radio service that specialises in live BBC News, phone-ins, and sports commentaries...

 show '5 Live Breakfast' hosted by Nicky Campbell
Nicky Campbell
Nicholas Andrew Argyll "Nicky" Campbell is a Scottish radio and television presenter and journalist. He is known for his time presenting on programmes such as the consumer affairs programme Watchdog...

 and Shelagh Fogarty
Shelagh Fogarty
Shelagh Fogarty, born 13 January 1966 in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, is a radio and television presenter and journalist. She formerly hosted the BBC Radio 5 Live breakfast show with Nicky Campbell.-Early life:...

 on 13 January 2009, Jones described private schools as a "cancer on the education system".
Jones cites private schools as one of the reasons that Britain remains as socially stratified as it is. Among the advantages in private schools compared to state schools, Jones listed smaller classroom sizes, highly-trained teachers, better facilities, and coaching through university interviews.


Jones, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published on 15 September 2010 in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

's state visit to the UK.

Global warming

In July 2011, Jones produced a report dealing with science reporting issues at the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

. He was critical of the BBC in giving too much space and credence to sceptics of the global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 theory propounded by many climatologists.


Radio and television

Jones was the 1991 Reith Lecturer on BBC Radio, with a series entitled The Language of the Genes, the basis of his 1993 book of the same name.

He presented In the Blood, a six-part TV series on human genetics
Human genetics
Human genetics describes the study of inheritance as it occurs in human beings. Human genetics encompasses a variety of overlapping fields including: classical genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, biochemical genetics, genomics, population genetics, developmental genetics, clinical genetics,...

 first broadcast in 1996, see book of same name in bibliography.


  • "Evolution is inevitable. It depends on mistakes in reproduction."
  • "... the key to evolution, design without a designer: the preservation of favorable variations and rejection of those injurious."
  • "Everyone is a living fossil"

External links

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