Patrick Bateson

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Sir Patrick Bateson
Born Paul Patrick Gordon Bateson
(1938-03-31)March 31, 1938
Died August 1, 2017(2017-08-01) (aged 79)[1]
Education Westminster School[2]
Alma mater University of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
Known for Bateson's cube
Scientific career
Institutions University of Cambridge
Stanford University[1]
Thesis The Development of Filial and Avoidance behaviour in the domestic chicken (1963)
Doctoral advisor Robert Hinde[1]
Influences Niko Tinbergen[1]

Sir (Paul) Patrick (Gordon) Bateson, FRS (31 March 1938 – 1 August 2017) was an English biologist and science writer. Bateson was a professor of ethology at the University of Cambridge and president of the Zoological Society of London.[3][4][5][6]


Bateson was educated at Westminster School[2] and King's College, Cambridge[2] where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology[when?] and a PhD for research on animal behaviour supervised by Robert Hinde.[7][1][8]

Career and research[edit]

Bateson was a biologist who specialised in researching the behaviour of animals and how it is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Patrick was a world authority on imprinting in birds — the process of learning to recognise their parents and members of their own species — and his work led to new principles in behavioural development.[9]

Bateson devised original experiments that showed how characteristics of imprinting depend on the bird’s early life experiences. Bateson's investigation of learning in birds has led to greater understanding of the neural basis of memory. He had an interest in how developmental and behavioural processes influence evolution.[9]

Bateson was concerned with the ethics of using animals in research and the analysis of animal pain and suffering. This led to a study into the effects on red deer of hunting with hounds, an inquiry into dog breeding and a review of the use of animals in research.[9]

Previous academic positions include a Harkness Fellowship at Stanford University[1][10] and ten years as head of the Cambridge sub-department of Animal Behaviour. Bateson retired as the biological secretary to the Royal Society after five years and Provost of King's College, Cambridge after fifteen years in 2003. He retired from his Cambridge Chair in 2005.

Bateson published on such topics as ethology, animal welfare, behavioral development and evolution.

Selected publications[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

Bateson was knighted in 2003. He received an Honorary Doctor of Science (ScD) degree from the University of St Andrews[11] and an Honorary Fellowship from Queen Mary University of London.[12] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1983.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Bateson's grandfather's cousin was the geneticist William Bateson, and his daughter is Melissa Bateson, also a professor of ethology, at Newcastle University.[citation needed] Bateson was an atheist.[13] He died on 1 August 2017 at the age of 79.[1][2][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Laland, Kevin N. (2017). "Patrick Bateson (1938–2017) Biologist who unravelled how animal behaviour develops". Nature. 548 (7668): 394–394. doi:10.1038/548394a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 28836598. 
  2. ^ a b c d Anon (2017) BATESON, Prof. Sir (Paul) Patrick (Gordon). Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  closed access publication – behind paywall doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.6789(subscription required)
  3. ^ Career profiles: How I came to study animal behaviour
  4. ^ Patrick Bateson interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 13th December 2007 (film)
  5. ^ Patrick Bateson publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  6. ^ "Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, FRS". 
  7. ^ Bateson, Paul Patrick Gordon (1963). The Development of Filial and Avoidance behaviour in the domestic chicken. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 500380329. EThOS 
  8. ^ Bateson, Patrick (2015). "Patrick Bateson". Current Biology. 25 (5): R180–R181. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.12.040. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 25897438. 
  9. ^ a b c d Anon (2017). "Professor Patrick Bateson FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2017-08-15.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 

  10. ^ Patrick Bateson profile,; accessed 18 February 2017.
  11. ^ Honorary degrees,; accessed 18 February 2017.
  12. ^ Honorary Fellows Archived 27 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed 18 February 2017.
  13. ^ "A confirmed agnostic, he [Bateson] was converted to atheism after attending a dinner where he tried to converse with a woman who was a creationist. "For many years what had been good enough for Darwin was good enough for me. Not long after that dreadful dinner, Richard Dawkins wrote to me to ask whether I would publicly affirm my atheism. I could see no reason why not." " Lewis Smith, 'Science has second thoughts about life', The Times (London), January 1, 2008, Pg. 24.
  14. ^ Martin, Paul (14 August 2017). "Sir Patrick Bateson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 

Academic offices
Preceded by
Bernard Williams
Provost of King's College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Judith Mayhew