George Harper is Science Friday’s stewardship manager, which means he has the enviable opportunity to talk with Science Friday listeners and supporters pretty much every day he is working.
George split the first 17 years of life between Central New Jersey and Northern New Mexico spending lots of time in the natural places in both areas. His adult wanderings led to living in East Texas, Southern California, the Front Range of Colorado, the Piedmont of North Carolina,
Central Arkansas, and Western New York.
With lifelong fascinations for animals, space (on and off Earth), and time, it was only a matter of the latter before he got a BS in Biology from SUNY Fredonia and a Ph.D. in Biology from UNC Chapel Hill. His focus on evolutionary ecology brought his three lifelong fascinations together. He has researched the origins of and evolutionary forces that shape coral snake mimicry, snake venom, and viruses and published research on mimicry and venom. He was also a coauthor on a paper that pioneered the use of DNA sequences to show that some fish filets sold in stores and markets aren’t what the store labels claim them to be. As a biology professor, George stressed the need for scientific literacy and effective science communication. Together with the students in his courses, he designed assignments, projects, and games to achieve both.
When he isn’t focused on science and science communication, you can find George out on a hike, cooking and eating cuisines from all around the world, and listening to music from many different cultures.