Robert Sapolsky

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Robert Maurice Sapolsky
Robert Sapolsky-edited.jpg
Robert Sapolsky in 2009
Born 1957 (age 56–57)
Brooklyn, New York
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Neuroscience, Neurobiology, Biological anthropology, Primatology
Institutions Stanford University
Alma mater Harvard University (B.A.)
Rockefeller University (Ph.D.)
Thesis The neuroendocrinology of stress and aging (1984)
Doctoral advisor Bruce McEwen
Other academic advisors Melvin Konner[1]

Robert Maurice Sapolsky (born 1957) is an American neuroendocrinologist, professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery at Stanford University, researcher and author. He is currently a Professor of Biological Sciences, and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences and, by courtesy, Neurosurgery, at Stanford University. In addition, he is a Research Associate at the National Museums of Kenya.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Sapolsky was born in Brooklyn, New York to immigrants from the Soviet Union. He was raised as an Orthodox Jew and spent his time reading about and imagining living with silverback gorillas. By age 12, he was writing fan letters to primatologists. He attended John Dewey High School and, by that time, he was reading textbooks on the subject and teaching himself Swahili.[3] Sapolsky describes himself as an atheist.[4][5][6][6]

He stated in his acceptance speech for the Emperor Has No Clothes Award in 2003, "I was raised in an Orthodox (Jewish) household, and I was raised devoutly religious up until around age 13 or so. In my adolescent years, one of the defining actions in my life was breaking away from all religious belief whatsoever."[7]

In 1978, Sapolsky received his B.A. in biological anthropology summa cum laude from Harvard University.[8] He then went to Kenya to study the social behaviors of baboons in the wild; after which he returned to New York; studying at Rockefeller University, where he received his Ph.D. in Neuroendocrinology working in the lab of Bruce McEwen, a world-renowned endocrinologist.

Following Sapolsky's initial year-and-a-half field study in Africa, he returned every summer for another twenty-five years to observe the same group of baboons, from the late 70s to the early 90s. He spent 8 to 10 hours a day for approximately four months each year recording the behaviors of these primates.[9]

Career[edit]

Sapolsky is currently the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor at Stanford University, holding joint appointments in several departments, including Biological Sciences, Neurology & Neurological Sciences, and Neurosurgery.[10]

A neuroendocrinologist, he has focused his research on issues of stress and neuronal degeneration, as well as on the possibilities of gene therapy strategies for protecting susceptible neurons from disease. Currently, he is working on gene transfer techniques to strengthen neurons against the disabling effects of glucocorticoids. Each year Sapolsky spends time in Kenya studying a population of wild baboons in order to identify the sources of stress in their environment, and the relationship between personality and patterns of stress-related disease in these animals. More specifically, Sapolsky studies the cortisol levels between the alpha male and female and the subordinates to determine stress level. An early but still relevant example of his studies of olive baboons is to be found in his 1990 Scientific American article, "Stress in the Wild".[11]

Sapolsky has also written about neurological impairment and the insanity defense within the American legal system.[12][13]

Honors[edit]

Sapolsky has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship genius grant in 1987,[14] an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the Klingenstein Fellowship in Neuroscience. He was also awarded the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and the Young Investigator of the Year Awards from the Society for Neuroscience, the International Society for Psychoneuro-Endocrinology, and the Biological Psychiatry Society.

In 2007 he received the John P. McGovern Award for Behavioral Science, awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[15]

In 2008 he received Wonderfest's Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.[16] In February 2010 Sapolsky was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers,[17] following the earlier Emperor Has No Clothes Award for year 2002.[18]

See also[edit]

Selected works[edit]

Books[edit]

Journal articles[edit]

Courses[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hanson, E. Simon (January 5, 2001). "A Conversation With Robert Sapolsky". Brain Connection. Retrieved 3 June 2014. "BC: Who were your greatest mentors? RS: Of people I’ve actually dealt with, ... the main person is an anthropologist/physician named Melvin Konnor ... . He ... was my advisor in college and remains a major mentor." 
  2. ^ "Robert Sapolsky". Retrieved 22 Feb 2009. 
  3. ^ Vaughan, Christopher. "Going Wild A biologist gets in touch with his inner primate.". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Shwartz, Mark (March 7, 2007). "Robert Sapolsky discusses physiological effects of stress". News. Stanford University. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ Karen Song (Feb 26, 2008). "Robert Sapolsky on YouTube". YouTubey. 
  6. ^ a b "Professor Sapolsky Explains the Origin of Religion Part 1/2". 
  7. ^ "Professor Sapolsky, Belief and Biology". 
  8. ^ "About Robert Sapolsky: advancing our understanding of stress for decades". Stanford University. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Transcript of How I Write Conversation with Robert Sapolsky". Stanford University. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Stanford Univ. detail of Prof. Sapolsky". Retrieved 2007-07-27 
  11. ^ Sapolsky, Robert M. (1990). "Stress in the Wild". Scientific American, 262. 106–113
  12. ^ "The Brain on the Stand," New York Times Magazine
  13. ^ The frontal cortex and the criminal justice system.
  14. ^ "MacArthur Fellows List - July 1987". Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  15. ^ "About AAAS: John McGovern Lecture". Retrieved 22 Feb 2009. 
  16. ^ "Sagan Prize Recipients". wonderfest.org. 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Honorary FFRF Board Announced". ffrf.org. Archived from the original on December 17, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Emperor Has No Clothes Award -- Robert Sapolsky". Freedom From Religion Foundation. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  19. ^ Robert Sapolsky (2012). "Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science". The Teaching Company. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
  20. ^ Robert Sapolsky (2005). "Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality, 2nd edition". The Teaching Company. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  21. ^ Robert Sapolsky (2010). "Stress and Your Body". The Teaching Company. Retrieved 2011-05-29. 

External links[edit]