Sean Carroll tells the tale of courage, creative genius, enduring friendship and insight into the human condition for Assembly Series


Sean B. Carroll, PhD, is an evolutionary biologist, popular author, educator and WUSTL alumnus (LA ’79) who discovered the beauty of the humanities while studying biology as a student here.

His embrace of both worlds informs his most recent book, “Brave Genius: A Scientist’s Journey from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize,” and is the title of his Assembly Series lecture at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, in Graham Chapel. A booksigning will follow in the Women’s Building Formal Lounge. Both events are free and open to the public.

Carroll is an eminent scientist who is passionate about the humanities and the need for a liberal arts education.

“‘Brave Genius’ owes its existence to my experiences as an undergraduate student at Washington University. This is a story that underscores the many unforeseeable dividends of a liberal arts education and the lasting impacts of great teachers and mentors,” he said.

It’s also a great story: In the spring of 1940, the aspiring but unknown writer Albert Camus and budding scientist Jacques Monod were quietly pursuing ordinary, separate lives in Paris. After the German invasion and occupation of France, each joined the Resistance to help liberate the country from the Nazis, ascended to prominent, dangerous roles, and were lucky to survive. After the war and through twists of circumstance, they became friends, and through their passionate determination and rare talent they emerged as leading voices of modern literature and biology, each receiving the Nobel Prize in their respective fields.

Drawing upon a wealth of previously unpublished and unknown material gathered over several years of research, “Brave Genius” tells the story of how each man endured the most terrible episode of the 20th century and then blossomed into extraordinarily creative and engaged individuals. It is a story of the transformation of ordinary lives into exceptional lives by extraordinary events — of courage in the face of overwhelming adversity, the flowering of creative genius, deep friendship, and of profound concern for and insight into the human condition.

Please note that changing weather conditions may affect Carroll’s scheduled appearance. Check the Assembly Series website for updated information or call 314-935-4620.