Science Book a Day Interviews Enrico Coen

enrico-coenSpecial thanks to Enrico Coen for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life

Enrico Coen is a plant molecular geneticist based at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, United Kingdom. He is the author of The Art of Genes, a fellow of the Royal Society, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His awards include the Linnean Gold Medal and the Royal Society Darwin Medal. – From Princeton University Press

#1- What was the impetus for this book? 

To explore whether there are unifying principles that underlie the four great transformations of life – evolution, development, learning and cultural change.

#2 – Can you tell me a bit about the 7 organising principles of biology that you talk about in your book? How did you come to these principles? 

I came to these principles by delving into the mechanisms underlying each type of transformation and then thinking about the fundamental principles they share.

#3 – Through the many areas of biology that you discuss in your book, how do you try to make the topics you are talking about accessible to the reader? 

By trying to make the fundamental logic very clear and also using appropriate analogies when possible.

#4 – Moving from Cells to Civilisation is an ambitious aim. What has been the response to your book, from other scientists and the general public? 

Those who have read the book have generally been very positive about it.  The biggest challenge is absorbing notions from very disparate areas of science.  The book was shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for popular science books which was gratifying.

#5 – Are you working on any new projects/books that you can tell us about? 

I am thinking of writing another book but it is at too early a stage to comment further.

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