Primary Interests

I am an environmental toxicologist and writer. Over the years I have become interested in how life’s response to toxic chemicals is shaped through the process of evolution. Many of the detoxification systems we rely upon today, evolved in response to naturally occurring chemicals from metals to oxygen and later to toxins produced by plants and animals. A basic understanding of the evolutionary origins of these systems will help toxicologists better predict how many of the chemicals produced and used today will interact with living systems – from bacteria to bugs and humans. In addition to taking the “long-view” there are also more immediate evolutionary responses to toxic chemicals. Many species, particularly those we consider pest and pathogen, adapt or evolve quite quickly (consider resistance to antibiotics or pesticides). By understanding the relationship between human activities and rapid evolution we can strive to reduce the powerful selection pressures that we impose upon all manner of life.


Unnatural Selection: how we are changing life gene by gene, Island Press, October 2014.

Evolution in a Toxic World: how life responds to chemical threats, Island Press, 2012.

Motherhood the Elephant in the Laboratory, Cornell Press, 2008.

Interconnections Between Human and Ecosystem Health (Monosson and DiGuilio), Chapman-Hall, 1996.

Selected Articles:

Exercising Communication, SETAC Globe, 2014, Volume 15, in press.

Sleep Tight, The Scientist, October 2014.

Robot Evolution, AEON Magazine, June 2013.

Evolution of the Toxic Response: how might ecotoxicology benefit by considering evolution? Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, April 2012, 8:379-380.

Unnatural Selection, AEON Magazine, October 2012.

Chemical Innocence, Book Review, American Scientist, Sept-Oct 2012.

Chemical Mixtures: considering the evolution of toxicology and chemical assessment. Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2005, 113:383-390.