Joe Thornton is a Professor in the Departments of Human Genetics and Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. His laboratory studies the mechanisms by which proteins evolve new functions.
Thornton has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Presidential Early
Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a CAREER award from the National
Science Foundation, the Early Career Scientist award from the Howard Hughes
Medical Institute, and the Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Computational and Evolutionary Biology. Before arriving at the University of Chicago, Thornton was a member of the faculty of the University of Oregon.
He earned his PhD in Biological Sciences from Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History in 2000 and his BA from Yale University in English in 1987. Between those degrees, he worked as an environmental activist for Greenpeace and authored the seminal book on global chemical pollution, Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2000).