Bryan Clarke

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Bryan Clarke

Bryan Campbell Clarke

(1932-06-24)24 June 1932
Died27 February 2014(2014-02-27) (aged 81)
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (BA, DPhil)
SpouseAnn Clarke (née Jewkes)[2]
ChildrenOne daughter, Alex; one son, Peter
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society (1982), Linnean Medal (2003)
Darwin-Wallace Medal (2008)
Darwin Medal (2010)
Scientific career
FieldsGenetics, evolutionary biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Nottingham
University of Edinburgh
ThesisSome factors affecting shell colour polymorphism in Cepaea (1961)
Doctoral advisorArthur Cain
Doctoral students
Other notable studentsFred W. Allendorf

Bryan Campbell Clarke FRS[3] (24 June 1932 – 27 February 2014) was a British Professor of genetics, latterly emeritus at the University of Nottingham. Clarke is particularly noted for his work on apostatic selection (which is a term he coined in 1962) and other forms of frequency-dependent selection, and work on polymorphism in snails, much of it done during the 1960s. Later, he studied molecular evolution. He made the case for natural selection as an important factor in the maintenance of molecular variation, and in driving evolutionary changes in molecules through time. In doing so, he questioned the over-riding importance of random genetic drift advocated by King, Jukes, and Kimura. With Professor James J Murray Jnr (University of Virginia), he carried out an extensive series of studies on speciation in land snails of the genus Partula inhabiting the volcanic islands of the Eastern Pacific. These studies helped illuminate the genetic changes that take place during the origin of species.


Clarke was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956[2] followed by a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1961 from the University of Oxford for research investigating factors affecting shell colour polymorphism in the land snails (Cepaea).[4]

Career and research[edit]

Clarke was appointed a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in 1959[2] and was promoted to Reader by the time he left in 1971. In 1971 he became Foundation Professor at the new Department of Genetics at the University of Nottingham becoming Emeritus Professor in 1997. During this period he spent two spells (1971–76, 1981–93) as Head of Department.

Clarke mentored many scientists in evolutionary genetics, supervising more than thirty research students, many of which went gone on to successful research careers themselves such as Steve Jones.[1] He was a co-founder of the Population Genetics Group ("PopGroup") a scientific meeting for evolutionary and population genetics held annually in the UK since the 1960s.[5]

Clarke was co-founder (with his wife Ann and Dame Anne McLaren) and trustee of the Frozen Ark project, launched in 2004 to preserve the DNA and living cells of endangered species worldwide.[6][7]

Clarke acted as managing editor of the scientific journal Heredity from 1978 to 1985.[7]

Awards and achievements[edit]

Clarke was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1982.[2] In 2003 he was both awarded the Linnean Medal for Zoology and elected a Foreign member of the American Philosophical Society. In 2004 he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received one of the thirteen Darwin-Wallace Medals awarded by the Linnean Society of London in 2008; at that time the award was made only every 50 years.[8] He was awarded the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society in 2010 'for his original and influential contributions to our understanding of the genetic basis of evolution'.[9]

In 1959 he published Berber Village, an account of an Oxford University expedition to the High Atlas mountains of Morocco.[10]


  1. ^ a b Jones, John Stephen (1971). Studies on the Ecological Genetics of Cepaea. (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/15121. OCLC 606118378. EThOS Free access icon
  2. ^ a b c d e Brookfield, John (2023). "Bryan Campbell Clarke. 24 June 1932 — 27 February 2014". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 74: 109–121. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2022.0042. S2CID 164222926.
  3. ^ Clarke, Bryan Campbell (1995). "Edmund Brisco Ford. 23 April 1901 – 2 January 1988". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. London: Royal Society. 41: 146–168. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1995.0010. JSTOR 770139. S2CID 72984345.
  4. ^ Clarke, Bryan Campbell (1961). Some factors affecting shell colour polymorphism in Cepaea. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 556424167. EThOS Free access icon
  5. ^ "Previous Meetings". Population Genetics Group. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  6. ^ "People". The Frozen Ark. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Professor Bryan Clarke - obituary". The Telegraph. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  8. ^ "The Darwin-Wallace medal". The Linnean Society of London. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  9. ^ "The Darwin Medal (1890)". The Royal Society. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  10. ^ Berber Village. The Story of the Oxford University Expedition to the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Longmans, Travel Book Club.