Peter Grant


Ecology and Conservation Biology

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology category goes, in this tenth edition, to evolutionary biologists Rosemary and Peter Grant “for their profound contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms and processes by which evolution occurs in the wild,” in the words of the jury’s citation. This husband-and-wife research team was the first to successfully document how evolution plays out in real time, uncovering mechanisms of utility for developing effective strategies to conserve threatened species.


Peter Grant (London, United Kingdom, 1936) graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1960 then went on to earn a PhD at the University of British Columbia in 1964, by which time he had met and married Rosemary Grant.

The couple have worked shoulder to shoulder throughout their research and teaching careers, with positions at the universities of Yale, McGill, Michigan, Uppsala and, finally, Princeton, where Rosemary is Senior Research Scholar and Professor of Zoology Emeritus and Peter is Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology Emeritus.

Parallel to their scientific enterprise, the Grants stand out for the efforts they have invested in mentoring new generations of researchers and in interesting lay people in ecology. The Society of the Study of Evolution has created an award scheme for young investigators that bears Rosemary Grant’s name. And the couple’s adventures in science are narrated in The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time, a book by Jonathan Weiner which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. They have also been the subject of TV and radio documentaries by the BBC, National Geographic and the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS).