Thursday, November 04, 2010

Kowles publishes book about wonder of genetics

WINONA, Minn. — Dr. Richard Kowles makes the complexities of genetics both humorous and understandable in his new book, “The Wonder of Genetics: the Creepy, the Curious and the Commonplace.”

Dr. Kowles, a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in Biology at Saint Mary’s University, drew upon his lifelong career in teaching (38 years at Saint Mary’s and 14 at the high school level) to answer such questions as, “Why do some people look like their relatives, while others don’t?” and “Why are some of us male and others female?”

“I wrote the book as a challenge because most people (and publishers) refuse to believe that genetic concepts can be explained to the average public; hence, I took on the challenge,” he said. “Consequently, it is a trade book geared to the general public and also to non-biology majors in college. Prometheus (the name of the publisher), in Greek mythology, means ‘inventive’ and ‘daring.’ How fitting for such a book.”

Kowles, known internationally for his research in genetics, explains that genetic concepts tend to be almost everywhere. The book deals with topics like: the genetic differences between males and females, the potential effects of radiation on the human genome, eating irradiated or genetically modified foods, cloning, genetic therapy, stem-cell research, nature vs. nurture, and how genes are related to many diseases, psychological disturbances and possibly other behaviors. Dr. Kowles concludes by addressing common misconceptions about genetics and emphasizing the discipline’s potential for curing some diseases, extending the human lifespan, enhancing medicine and agriculture, and generally improving society.”

And he accomplishes all of this with some tongue-in-cheek humor.

"Good teaching is to transplant what is in your head into the head of others with understanding — whether they are college students or the general public. And humor never hurts,” Dr. Kowles said. “Some ‘zingers’ are indeed embedded in the book.”

“The Wonder of Genetics” — Dr. Kowles’ fourth book— was published on Oct. 29. It is available by contacting Prometheus Books, 800-421-0351; on; at Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstores; and at other local bookstores and online retailers.