First Person | Sean B. Carroll

Courtesy of Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Sean B. Carroll, developmental biologist, rock 'n' roll lover, a man who will stand in five feet of water all day dredging for shark teeth, is dreading his advancing years. He's all of 42. A self-described jeans-and-sneaker-wearing regular guy, Carroll says his age is "very hard to get used to. I don't know, it seems I've been doing this too long."

Earning his PhD in immunology at the age of 22--which he attributes more to empty pockets and determination than brains--Carroll switched gears as a postdoc in the early 1980s, when the idea of studying evolution through development was beginning to make sense. "Paleontologists were interested in how form changed, but they couldn't say where form came from. It made me decide to study developmental genetics."

One hundred-plus papers, significant press attention, and more than 20 years later,...

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