Read about Joe Thornton, Ph.D., in the February 2009 issue.
University of Oregon
Unlike most scientists, Joe Thornton took his first biology class at age 30. His interest in environmental activism led him to ask questions about synthetic chemicals that mimic (and disrupt) our natural hormones—and eventually took him back to school.
More than a decade later, Thornton now studies the endocrine system, a complex network of glands and hormones found in most animals. By resurrecting 450–million–year–old genes and using them to make equally ancient proteins, he helps explain the evolution of certain hormones and how chemical pollutants can alter our biology.