David Hillis (2013-2019)—is an evolutionary biologist from the University of Texas at Austin. Intellectually, he ranks among the top Life Science researchers and educators of his generation with expertise in the field of phylogenetic systematics, computational biology, evolution, and biodiversity. Prof. Hillis is best known for using molecular genetic techniques to study relationships among populations, species and higher taxa. He has a strong commitment to public communication of science, application of evolutionary methods to both basic and applied questions and professional development of early-career scientists in this field to foster the next generation of researchers in this field. His expertise reaches beyond the academy, highlighting the impact and importance of science in conservation policy, law, nature appreciation and public education. In addition to co-authoring the standard reference book on molecular systematics in evolutionary biology, Prof. Hillis has co-authored two introductory undergraduate biology textbooks with the goal of making biology and evolution more accessible to undergraduates. He publishes prolifically, routinely with his students in top journals, and works tirelessly at promoting the dissemination of evolutionary biology to a broad range of audiences.
Prof. Hillis has been the recipient of many honors and prizes including a MacArthur Fellowship (1999), elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2000) and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2008) and most recently the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement offered by the Society of Systematic Biologists (2012).