Mae-Wan Ho

Mae-Wan Ho

Director/Institute of Science in Society, UK ;

Szent-Gyorgyi’s remark that ‘life is interposed between two energy levels of an electron’ had inspired Mae-Wan since her undergraduate days; it predisposed her to reject vacuous neo-Darwinian explanations based on ‘selective advantage’. She began writing (often with Peter Saunders) on epigenetics, development, and evolution since the 1970s, moving eventually into quantum physics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics and beyond in her quest for the meaning of life. 

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Mae-Wan Ho received her B. Sc. Hon (First Class) in Biology and Chemistry and Ph. D. Biochemistry from University of Hong Kong. She was post-doctoral fellow at Neurosciences Department, University California San Diego from 1968-72 where she researched inherited glycolipid diseases. In 1971 she was awarded a National Genetics Foundation Fellowship that took her to Queen Elizabeth College (QEC) London in the UK in 1972. She was Senior Research Fellow at QEC 1974-1977; Lecturer in Genetics 1976-1985, then Reader in Biology 1985-2000 at the Open University. In 1999, she cofounded The Institute of Science in Society with the mission of recovering science for the public good, and is editor in chief and art director of its quarterly magazine Science in Society.

Mae-Wan is best known for pioneering work on the physics of organisms and sustainable systems, for which she has been awarded the 2014 Prigogine Medal.  She has published a dozen books, more than 170 scientific papers, and over 700 popular articles across all disciplines, being also an artist and occasional poet.

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"Life is achingly beautiful and creative once you free yourself from the mind-numbing shackles of neo-Darwinian dogma."

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