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Philip J. Regal

Emeritus faculty

Graduate Faculty Memberships

Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Liberal Studies; Development Studies & Social Change; Microbial Ecology.


Research Interests

Evolutionary mechanisms and patterns; physiological ecology; tropical ecology; implications of genetic engineering; human ecology and evolution.



For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by nature, adventure, ideas, and by the paradox of continuity and change, patterns of similarity and dissimilarity. Evolutionary biology seemed tailor-made for me. It has taken me on adventures from tropical rainforests to rare-book libraries.

Darwin's book on insectivorous plants was a profound influence and taught me while young that in the long run understanding patterns of evolution must involve a holistic approach that brings in physiology, ecology, functional anatomy, genetics, and even philosophy!

Despite the institutional pressures to specialize, I have been able to pursue the most interesting intellectual questions that I have come across. This underlying "Darwinian" strategy for professional development has let me move over the years between diverse subjects with increasing strength and unusually broad foundations that have allowed me to make unique contributions. It hasn't been easy, but it has been exciting and rewarding.

Most recently I have been applying "Darwin thinking" to global human ecology and trying to understand the cultural evolution of the modern world system in terms of its functional components. I have written a book on bonobos and their implications for human evolution.




Regal, P.J. 1990. The Anatomy of Judgment. University of Minnesota Press.


Selected Publications


Regal, P.J. 1994. Scientific principles for ecologically based risk assessment of transgenic organisms. Molecular Ecology 3:5-13.

Regal, P.J. 1993. The true meaning of "exotic species" as a model for genetically engineered organisms. Birkhauser Verlag Basel. Experientia 49:225-234.

Regal, P.J. 1985. The ecology of evolution: Implications of the individualistic paradigm. In Engineered Organisms in the Environment: Scientific Issues. H.O. Halvorson, D. Pramer, and M. Rogul, eds. American Society for Microbiology. Washington, D.C. pp. 11-19.


Phone: 612-624-6751 Fax: 612-624-6777