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Paul Turner, PhD

Rachel Carson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Dr. Paul Turner is the Rachel Carson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and Microbiology faculty member at Yale School of Medicine. He obtained a BA in Biology (1988) from University of Rochester, a PhD in Microbial Evolution (1995) from Michigan State University, and did postdocs at National Institutes of Health, University of Valencia in Spain, and University of Maryland-College Park, before joining Yale in 2001. Dr. Turner studies evolutionary genetics of viruses, particularly phages that infect bacterial pathogens and RNA viruses transmitted by arthropods, and researches the use of phages to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases. He is very active in science-communication outreach to the general public, and is involved in programs where faculty collaborate with K-12 teachers to improve STEMM education in underserved public schools. Dr. Turner’s service includes the National Science Foundation’s Bio Advisory Committee, and his honors include Fellowship in the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and American Academy of Microbiology.

Education & Training

  • Postdoc
    National Institutes of Health (2001)
  • Postdoc
    University of Valencia, Spain (1999)
  • Postdoc
    University of Maryland, College Park (1998)
  • PhD
    Michigan State University, Microbial Ecology and Evolution (1995)
  • BA
    University of Rochester, Biology (1988)


  • Presenter on “Virus Evolution” for Exploring Science: Ask a Scientist
    New Haven, CT, United States 2020
    Virtual series for middle school and high school students in New Haven, CT area
  • Panel discussion: “Marketing Yourself as a URM in the Sciences During and After COVID-19.
    New Haven, CT, United States 2020
    Yale BBS Diversity and Inclusion Collective
  • Panel participant for “Weighing the Cost: Work/Life Balance in Academia”
    New Haven, CT, United States 2019
    Panel participant for “Weighing the Cost: Work/Life Balance in Academia”
  • Presenter: U.S. Capitol Hill
    Washington, DC, United States 2019
    U.S. Capitol Hill Briefing organized by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
  • Presenter: Evolution Matters seminar series
    Boston, MA, United States 2019
    Harvard Museum of Natural History
  • The Academy for Teachers Master Class
    The Rise and Fall of Antibiotics 2019
    Developing Novel Therapies to Combat Bacterial Pathogens
  • Taught “Evolutionary Medicine”, “Asking Questions in Biology”, “Microbes Rule!”, “Making Sense of Evolution”, “Manipulating Biology: Costs, Benefits and Controversies”, and “Caretakers versus Exploiters: Impacting Biodiversity in the Age of Humans” seminars
    New Haven, CT, United States (2009-2021)
    Turner worked with K-12 teachers from underserved public schools in New Haven and other US cities, to develop new biology, math, and social studies curricula relating to evolutionary biology and/or ecology and evolution of diseases.
  • Presenter at various outreach events for the public
    New Haven, CT, United States (2008-2017)
    Science Saturdays for Kids series Yale U (2008); 40th Anniversary of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale (2009); “Darwin: 150 Years of Evolutionary Thinking” Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (2009); Science Café series, BAR restaurant, New Haven, CT (2014); MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students) panel on STEM careers and education, Celebration of Black Life Festival, Afro-American Cultural Center, Yale U (2016); Secret Science Club series, The Bell House Bar, Brooklyn, N

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
President ElectInternational Society for Evolution, Medicine and Public Health2021
Rolla E. Dyer Memorial LectureNational Institutes of Health2021
John H. Blaffer Distinguished LectureMD Anderson Cancer Center2020
1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in AmericaCell Press2020
Elected to FellowshipNational Academy of Sciences2019
Elected to FellowshipAmerican Academy of Arts & Sciences2019
Elected to FellowshipAmerican Academy of Microbiology2019
MLK Week Memorial LectureVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State U2019
American Academy of Microbiology Honorary Diversity LecturerASM Microbe2019

Professional Service

National Academies of Science, Engineering and MedicineCommittee on Data Needs to Monitor Evolution of SARS-CoV-22020 - 2021
Biological Sciences Advisory CommitteeChair2019 - 2021
American Association for Advancement of ScienceCouncil Delegate, Biosciences Section2019 - 2021
Yale Department of Ecology & Evolution, Yale Department of Ecology & EvolutionDiversity Coordinator in university discussions/activities regarding recruitment, admissions and matriculation of diverse applicants to graduate program, and in hiring of tenure-track faculty.2005 - Present
STARS (Science, Technology and Research Scholars) Program at Yale, STARS (Science, Technology and Research Scholars) Program at YaleAdvisory board supports lab research and provides professional mentoring to undergraduate women and underrepresented minorities.2002 - Present

Departments & Organizations