MacArthur Fellows Program

Sharon B. Emerson

Biologist | Class of 1995

Salt Lake City, Utah
50 at time of award
Published July 1, 1995

About Sharon's Work

Sharon Emerson is a biologist with broad interests in evolution and ecology.

Her work has centered on an exploration of the origin of morphological novelties and understanding the biodiversity of form from various points of view.  Routinely crossing disciplinary boundaries between systematics, functional morphology, molecular genetics, behavioral and physiological ecology and conservation biology, Emerson examines organisms as potentially integrated morphological units, having demonstrated that selective significance is most interestingly considered in the context of other features.  Studying frog morphology through a series of research questions focused on various tropical frogs in Borneo, she has shown that evolution has occurred in systematic ways that are only partly related to ecological function.  Her model of analysis for determining the effects of different aerodynamic conditions on a specific type of frog’s flying abilities helped to define the emerging field of ecomorphology.


Emerson is a research professor emeritus at the University of Utah.  She has also worked as a research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Emerson received a B.A. (1966) from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.S. (1968) and a Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Southern California.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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