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Fellows Directory

Thomas Cavalier-Smith

Thomas Cavalier-Smith

Professor Thomas Cavalier-Smith FRS


Elected: 1998


Thomas Cavalier-Smith is a biologist who studies cell evolution and genetics. Thomas has proposed several new taxonomic branches of the phylogenetic tree of life, which is a model of evolutionary relationships based on physical or genetic characteristics, and clarified the position of its root.

He uses genetic sequencing, microscopy and computational analyses to research the development and diversity of molecular structure at a cellular level across the various levels represented within the tree of life, such as kingdoms, phyla, classes and species. He provided the most detailed theory for the origin of eukaryote cells, explaining how they and their probable archaebacterial sisters evolved from a eubacterium.

Thomas has discovered hundreds of new protist species and defined many new eukaryote groups, including the kingdom Chromista in 1981, most of its phyla, and many phyla and classes of Protozoa, some still being debated by the wider community. Amongst other awards, he has received the 2004 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science International Prize for Biology and the 2007 Frink Medal of the Zoological Society of London.

Interest and expertise


cell evolution, Genome evolution, Protists, Evolutionary systematics, Microbial taxonomy, Macroevolution, Eukaryotic evolution, Introns, Algae, Chloroplasts

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