Year of Honorary Fellowship, 2012
Emeritus Professor Geoff Parker FRS is an evolutionary biologist who studies adaptive strategies in reproduction and sexuality, behaviour, and life histories. His early work on the yellow dung fly mating system pioneered the use of evolutionary optimality modelling to demonstrate quantitatively that male sexual strategies are shaped by sexual selection. It led him to develop many theoretical aspects of behavioural ecology, now a major field in evolutionary biology. He is best known for founding the field of post-copulatory sexual selection by introducing the concept of sperm competition in a review of its occurrence and consequences in the insects, and subsequently developing its theoretical base. His other important contributions in evolutionary biology include the leading theory for why there are two sexes, the first formal analysis and definition of sexual conflict, and early theoretical bases of animal contest behaviour, distributions and competitive search strategies, all of which he attributes to ideas arising through his early research on the yellow dung fly. He also works on the evolution of anisogamy, complex life cycles of helminths, intra-familial conflict, sibling rivalry, and coercion.
Geoff Parker’s work has featured in many biological texts, and a number of philosophical monographs. He has received several medals and awards, including the Royal Society Darwin Medal, and two honorary doctorates.