Year of Honorary Fellowship, 2001
Professor Alessandro Minelli is an Italian biologist and former professor of zoology in the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Padova mainly working on evo-devo subjects. He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Padova 1966–70 and from 1987 to 2011, Minelli was a Full Professor of Zoology at the University of Padova.
Minelli is known for his studies in evolutionary developmental biology. The approach defended by Minelli is strongly rooted in comparative morphology and aims to extend to postembryonic development. His approach moves from a revisitation of the traditional concepts of homology. According to Minelli, the homology relationships between two structures is necessarily limited to selected features of those structures, thus requiring the adoption a factorial, or combinatorial concept of homology.
Minelli has introduced new concepts, such as axis paramorphism (useful for understanding the evolutionary relationships between the main axis of the body and its appendages) and those of eosegment and merosegment, through which he suggests a radical revisitation of the architecture of the body of segmented animals. Minelli has also explored the implication of evolutionary developmental biology for biological systematics, speciation and the evolution of life cycles.
He has authored several books on evolutionary biology and was awarded the Golden Medal in 2002 for the Physical and Natural Sciences awarded by the Italian Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL, the Ferrari-Soave Prize in 2005 (Animal Biology) awarded by the Accademia delle Scienze, Turin, Italy and the Sherborn Award in 2008 for outstanding service to biodiversity informatics.