Jared Diamond, born in Boston on September 10, 1937, is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His father was a physician, and his mother was a linguist, which might explain both his love of science and his ability to write about it. Diamond earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1958 and his doctorate at the University of Cambridge in England three years later. His special interests today involve evolutionary biology, physiology, and biogeography.
Diamond’s career in science has taken him on many expeditions around the world. One of his favorite places to explore is New Guinea and the islands that surround it. His studies of the local ecology have inspired him to create conservation programs for New Guinea’s national park system as well as for the World Wildlife Fund.
Diamond’s extensive research has earned him the respect of his colleagues and peers, as evidenced through the honors he has won over the years. These include being elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He also was granted the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Award.” Other honors include a Phi Beta Kappa Award, the Burr Award of the National Geographic Society, and the National Medal of Science.
Besides being an exceptional researcher, Diamond is an excellent writer. He has proven that he can compose not only academic material but also lively, engaging prose aimed at a general audience. Professor Diamond has written hundreds of articles for scientific journals such as Nature and Discover, but he is better known for his several books. His first popular work was The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (1992), which was followed by Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1997). Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, came next. Then in 2004, Diamond took a slightly different take on Guns and wrote Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.