Biology Professor Publishes 100th Review

Frank Kuserk, professor of biological sciences and director of the environmental studies and sciences program, will soon see his 100th review appear in print. His review of the book Evolution Since Darwin: The First 150 Years, along with more than 40 others that he has written over the past 30 years, will appear in the April edition of Science Books & Films, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Kuserk’s interest and expertise in the subject of evolution span several decades. When he began writing in the early 1980s, he reviewed the videos, Galapagos: The Enchanted Islands and the NOVA program, Did Darwin Get It Wrong?

 “I’ve written several reviews on books and films that deal with the subject of evolution, and it has certainly paid off when teaching some of my courses, especially my popular course, From Ape to Madonna: The Evolution of Humankind,” said Kuserk. “One, in particular stands out. I had been asked to review Virginia Morrell’s book, Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind’s Beginnings in 1995.

“Coincidentally I was also the individual on campus who had proposed bringing the noted paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, discoverer of “Lucy,” up until that time the earliest known hominin species, to campus. As his sponsor, I got to drive him back to the Hotel Bethlehem after his lecture, where we both shared a nightcap of Remy Martin before he turned in for the night. I used the opportunity to ask him about his own treatment in the book, given his renowned feud with Richard Leakey, who himself spoke at Moravian in the early 2000s. Needless to say I was able to get some first-hand comments that I was then able to incorporate into my review!”

Not all of Kuserk’s reviews deal with evolution, nor do all appear in SB&F. Many appear in the American Library Association’s publication Choice, and some longer reviews appear in the journals Ecology and The Quarterly Review of Biology. He’s even reviewed several science books for children, including a 1995 review of Moon in Bear’s Eyes for SB&F, which was accompanied by a separate review written by his daughter Laura (then a 7-year old interested in animals and nature).

“I’ve enjoyed writing all of these 100 reviews over the past 30 years,” said Kuserk. “What gets published in the latest scientific journal is, of course, important to scientists. But so are articles and books that reflect on and evaluate science, and put it into an historical and social context. Understanding evolutionary theory and the evidence that supports it is essential, but so is understanding the social implications of this great unifying scientific concept, something that I learned from reviewing The Social Meaning of Modern Biology: From Social Darwinism to Sociobiology.”

Kuserk recently submitted the next review toward his second 100 and also has received an assignment to review a book about hermaphroditism in the animal kingdom. “I’m sure that I’ll learn something from it that I can include in my animal behavior class next fall!” he said.