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John Harvard's Journal

Scott V. Edwards

July-August 2004

Scott V. Edwards
Photograph by Rose Lincoln / Harvard News Office

Hatched in Hawaii, fledged in the Bronx, and sighted above with some of Harvard's 17,000 warblers is Scott V. Edwards '86, who migrated after college to Berkeley to get a Ph.D. and to the University of Washington to teach and do research for nine years, returning to Cambridge in January as professor of organismic and evolutionary biology and curator of the bird collection at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. (The warblers were on the floor for five hours during a storeroom remodeling.) Edwards spends time in the field (down under, recently) and in the lab, where "his work has increased by an order of magnitude the avian DNA sequences available for genetic analysis," said William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, when announcing Edwards's appointment. His study of avian DNA has led to insights into the behavior and ecology of birds and helped him to climb their family trees. He suspects and hopes to help prove, for instance, that all the world's songbirds, more than half of all bird species, got their start in Australia. Edwards will teach molecular evolution this fall and, in the spring, a broad survey of the natural history of birds, with which he hopes to launch a new generation of Harvard ornithologists. For recreation he hikes, bikes, and plays the drums (rock and roll, blues). He lives with his wife, Elizabeth Adams, and their daughters, Kayla, 3, and Liana, 7, who can tell a starling from a red-winged blackbird, in Concord, Massachusetts, where a bit of birdwatching comes with the territory.