Jonathan Losos

William H Danforth Distinguished Professor

Jonathan Losos

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Losos is the inaugural holder of the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professorship, established in 2016 by the university in honor of Danforth, the former chancellor, on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

Losos leads the Living Earth CollaborativeTM, headquartered at Washington University.

An internationally renowned scholar in the field of evolutionary biology, Losos recently returned to Washington University, where he has deep roots and a long history, including as a member of the faculty from 1992-2006.

He previously served as the Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America, professor of organismic and evolutionary biology, and curator in herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

Losos’ study of the behavioral and evolutionary ecology of lizards has taken him around the globe and firmly established his position as a leading international expert on the biodiversity of species.

The Living Earth CollaborativeTM is a joint effort among the university and two of the nation’s leading institutions in the study and preservation of plants and animals: the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo. Together, they are creating a new academic center dedicated to advancing the study of biodiversity to help ensure the future of Earth’s species in their many forms.

Losos earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Harvard University in 1984 and a doctorate in zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989.


WashU in the News


‘Extinction crisis even worse than realized’

‘Extinction crisis even worse than realized’

“This new study shows that the extinction crisis is even worse than realized,” said Jonathan Losos, the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor and professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and director of the Living Earth Collaborative.
Replaying the tape of life: Is it possible?

Replaying the tape of life: Is it possible?

A review published in the Nov. 9 issue of Science explores the complexity of evolution’s predictability in extraordinary detail. Jonathan Losos of Arts & Sciences takes on a classic question posed by Stephen Jay Gould in an effort to fully interrogate ideas about contingency’s role in evolution.


Improbable Destinies

Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution

Improbable Destinies will change the way we think and talk about evolution. Losos’s insights into natural selection and evolutionary change have far-reaching applications for protecting ecosystems, securing our food supply, and fighting off harmful viruses and bacteria. This compelling narrative offers a new understanding of ourselves and our role in the natural world and the cosmos.