Peter and Rosemary Grant receive Royal Medal in Biology

Morgan Kelly ・ High Meadows Environmental Institute

Peter Grant, the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, emeritus, and B. Rosemary Grant, senior research biologist, emeritus, ecology and evolutionary biology, have been named recipients of the Royal Medal in Biology. The Grants’ legendary explorations of the group of 18 bird species known as Darwin’s finches that populate the Galápagos island of Daphne Major — which is in an entirely natural state unaffected by humans — over four decades have produced an array of dazzling insights into evolutionary theory.

The biologists are the first husband-and-wife team to be given the award and the first recipients in population biology.

The Royal Society of London stated in a July 18 news release that the Grants received the Royal Medal “for their research on the ecology and evolution of Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos, demonstrating that natural selection occurs frequently and that evolution is rapid as a result.”

The Royal Medals recognize exceptional scientists engaged in challenging research to open up new possibilities and new applications. Three medals are awarded annually by the British monarch on the recommendation of the Royal Society, which was founded in 1660. The award was created by George IV and first granted in 1826.