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Postscript

New twists on old tales.

Five years ago, biology professor Joan Roughgarden raised a ruckus when she challenged Darwin's theory of sex selection ("On the Originality of Species," May/June 2004). Her contention: Sex has a social as well as reproductive purpose, and cooperation, not competition, is the key reproductive strategy. Roughgarden sticks to her guns in a new book, The Genial Gene (UC Press, 2009). Science magazine recently saluted her tenacity in a series on audacious scientists, those few who "ask big, bold questions" and are "committed to following the path to the answers even though it may lead to rejection, ridicule, personal attacks, lost funding, or other trials."


Another evolutionary biologist, Olivia Judson, turned heads when she adopted the persona of an agony aunt for critters in her book Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex ("Birds Do It, Bees Do It," Showcase, November/December 2005).  The book inspired a TV series; now Judson, '91, a research fellow in biology at Imperial College London, writes a New York Times blog, "The Wild Side," every Wednesday. In recent columns she's declared a Predator Appreciation Month, explained how fear affects flora and fauna, delved into the way ants—and plants—communicate, and questioned whether humans might develop immunity to obesity much as the Malaysian pentailed tree shrew has to inebriation. Judson's blogs stand out for their serendipity and exhaustive footnotes.


Last autumn, Stanford debuted iPhone and iPod Touch applications (a searchable campus map and directory, course descriptions, sports news) designed by Terriblyclever Design, a fledgling company co-founded by Stanford student Kayvon Beykpour, '10 ("Clever Connection," Farm Report, January/February).

Work developing applications for other universities mushroomed through the winter and by July, TerriblyClever had been bought by Washington, D.C.-based Blackboard for $4 million. Beykpour is now a Blackboard vice-president, and the latest version of iStanford lets students add and drop courses via their mobile devices.

When we profiled Marilyn Wann six years ago, her crusade for "fat acceptance" was a grassroots effort  ("Living Large," July/August 2003). Wann, '88, MA '89, took a light approach to activism, from her sassy 'zine and book Fat! So? Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size! (Ten Speed Press, 1998) to what she called "fun fat rebelliousness" performing with a squad of hefty cheerleaders and a synchronized—and obese—swim team. Since then, fat studies has become a serious academic pursuit: Wann is a co-author of The Fat Studies Reader (NYU Press), due out November 4. Stanford law professor Deborah Rhode calls it "A path-breaking anthology, and the first to map this emerging field. Leading scholars and activists from diverse disciplinary backgrounds explore the pervasiveness of prejudice based on body size, and challenge conventional policy responses. By focusing on goals of health, fitness, and social tolerance, The Fat Studies Reader redefines the 'problem' of weight and invites more promising solutions."

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