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Jay Phelan'sWhat is Life? A Guide to Biologyis written in a delightfully readable style that communicates complex ideas to non-biology majors in a clear and approachable manner. After reading Phelan's book, students will understand why they would want to know and talk about science. His skillful style includes asking stimulating questions (calledQ questions) which encourage the student to keep reading to find the answer and will illuminate just how relevant science is to their life.
Jay Phelan teaches biology at UCLA, where he has taught introductory biology in large lectures for majors and non-majors for twelve years. He received his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard in 1995, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Yale and UCLA. His primary area of research is evolutionary genetics, and his original research has been published in Evolution, Experimental Gerontology, and the Journal of Integrative and Comparative Biology, among others. His research has been featured on Nightline, CNN, the BBC, and National Public Radio; in Science Times and Elle; and in more than a hundred newspapers. He is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards. With Terry Burnham, Jay is the co-author of the international best-seller Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food—Taming Our Primal Instincts. Written for the general reader, Mean Genes explains in simple terms how knowledge of the genetic basis of human nature can empower individuals to lead more satisfying lives. Writing for a non-scientific audience has honed Jay’s writing style to one that is casual and inviting to students, but also scientifically precise.