Sean B. Carroll is an internationally recognized scientist and storyteller. A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an Associate Member of EMBO, Sean has made seminal contributions to understanding the development and evolution of animal form. An author of six books for the general public, Sean has been a finalist for the National Book Award in non-fiction and received the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science. And Sean has served as executive producer of more than thirty films, earning two Emmy’s for Outstanding Documentary, as well as a 2022 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.
The origin of novelty is one of the central questions of evolution. One of the key issues concerning the genetic basis of novelty is the extent to which novelty requires the evolution of new genes. My laboratory has been focused on the genetic mechanisms underlying the evolution of animal form, and more recently, on biochemical novelties such as the evolution of snake venom. We have found that the evolution of gene regulatory sequences is the predominant mechanism underlying the evolution of morphological traits, while the evolution of protein activity involves a variety of genetic mechanisms depending upon whether evolutionary change involves the amount or specificity of proteins. The increasing empirical understanding of how different kinds of traits arise is driving a major rethinking of the role of gene duplication in evolution.