Jan Sapp

Jan Sapp

Department of Biology; York University, Toronto

Jan Sapp is Professor of Biology and History at York University, Toronto, where he teaches processes of evolution and the history of biology. His research and writings have focused on the history of genetics, molecular biology, microbial evolution; symbiosis and horizontal gene transfer as modes of evolutionary innovation, as well as tropical ecology and biodiversity.

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Jan Sapp received his PhD in the history of science from the University of Montréal in 1984. He subsequently held an appointment at the University of Melbourne for 8 years, where he served as chair of the department of History and Philosophy of Science. He was visiting associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1990-1991) and then Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Rockefeller University, 1991-92. He subsequently accepted an appointment at York University in Toronto, and he was Professor and Chair in the Department of Science and Technology Studies before moving to the Biology Department in 1996.

Professor Sapp held the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the History of the Biological Sciences at the University of Québec at Montréal from 2001 to 2003 of which he remains an Associate; he returned to the Biology Department at York University. He is also Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, and is completing a book on the evolution and ecology of Tropical biology.



"The concept of gradual evolution driven by natural selection acting on differences between individuals of a species must be supplemented with saltational change resulting from horizontal gene transfer and symbiosis... Is it not time, for the advancement of science, to drop the adjective “Darwinian” from evolution?"

(Jan Sapp, “Saltational Symbiosis,” Theory in BioSciences 2010, p. 132)