Dr Adam Rutherford

Writer, Geneticist and Broadcaster

Adam's new book How To Argue With A Racist is will be published in February 2020. His latest book, The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us re-examines what sets us apart in the animal kingdom. Adam's previous book, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived is the story of the whole of human history, retold with DNA as a text, everyone and everything from Neanderthals to serial killers, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics. Richard Dawkins described it as ‘well-written, stimulating and entertaining. What's more important, he consistently gets it right.’ Adam's first book, Creation (Penguin 2014), was about the origin of life on Earth, and the future of life in the era of genetic engineering, synthetic biology and spider-goats. Creation was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2014.

Adam is the presenter of the flagship science programme on BBC Radio 4, Inside Science, as well as The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, and a host of other Radio 4 documentaries on subjects ranging from the inheritance of intelligence, MMR and autism, epigenetics, human evolution, astronomy and art, science and cinema, scientific fraud, and the evolution of sex. He’s also a regular guest on the Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince.

On television he’s written and presented many documentaries, including The Beauty of Anatomy – a five-part series for BBC4 (2014) on the story of anatomical art. Horizon: Playing God (BBC2, Jan 2012) on genetic engineering and synthetic biology (winner of Golden Dragon Awards, Shanghai, 2012); The Gene Code (BBC4, Apr 2011), and The Cell (BBC4, Sept 2009) - a three-part series charting the story of biology-  (winner Best Documentary at the ABSW awards (2010) & listed in the Daily Telegraph’s list of 10 Classic science programmes.)

Adam’s background is in genetics and evolution.  He did a PhD at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond St Hospital, studying the role of genes involved in the development of the eye. He worked at the science journal Nature, during which time he launched and presented the award-winning Nature Podcast, and produced and directed many short films, including a music video tribute to the retiring Space Shuttle. As a result, he has an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number of 15. Adam has also worked on many films as scientific adviser.

He lectures extensively at UCL, where he has an Honorary Fellowship, and in public all around the world, including prestigious events such as the Douglas Adam’s Memorial Lecture, the British Humanist Association’s Darwin Day Lecture, The BFI, the Hay Festival, and the Cheltenham Literary and Science Festivals. He co-authored a study on the effects of video games on adolescents and violence in 2016.

Photos by Stephan jakubowski