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From DNA To Human Being With Lindon Eaves, Ph.D.

Lindon Eaves, Ph.D. is one of the founders of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. He is currently professor emeritus at the Institute and has played a significant part in the development and application of a variety of research designs. These include the extended kin-ships of twins and longitudinal studies of twins and their parents. He has also developed some of the first methods for the structural analysis of multivariate genetic data to analyze directional patterns of causation. Much of this pioneering work is illustrated in over 300 publications throughout a forty-year research career.

Dr. Eaves’ clear passion for science began as a child, but further developed in college where he majored in genetics and psychology. During this time, he developed a great curiosity about science as well as a great curiosity about humanity. Because you cannot predict how life will turn out, he became interested in examining the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and learning the role that “accidental serendipity” plays.

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” – Richard Feynman

Dr. Eaves’ current research interests embrace, but are not confined to, the study of human variation, with particular focus on attitudes, values, and mating. He is also interested in understanding why people behave the way they do in groups and cultures. He realizes that reality is bigger than he is, and he is still trying to figure out the “very important truths about how we get to be who we are.” In other words, his passion lies in examining how you get from a package of DNA to a human being – drawing a map from chemistry to a person. He seeks to answer philosophical, yet scientific, questions such as, “Can we reduce the mystery of life to a DNA sequence?”

Outside of research, Dr. Eaves continues to enjoy teaching and working with students. He also enjoys living a life of semi-retirement where he can travel to foreign countries and embrace their culture, as well as cooking and appreciating the beauty of the James River.

Article by Elizabeth Long.

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