Spencer Wells

Thursday, August 13, 2020
10:45am EDT

Location CHQ Assembly

Spencer Wells is a geneticist, anthropologist, author and entrepreneur, who returns to Chautauqua to discuss the business and ethics of personal genetic information, and how that information is managed and used. 

For over a decade, Wells was an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and director of the Genographic Project, which collected and analyzed DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet, in the process launching the consumer genomics industry. His work has taken him to more than 100 countries, where he has collaborated with everyone from heads of government and Fortune 500 corporations, to tribal chieftains eking out a precarious living in places as remote as Chad, Tajikistan and Papua New Guinea. 

Wells is the author of three books, including The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, which explains how genetic data has been used to trace human migrations over the past 50,000 years, when modern humans first migrated outside of Africa. Wells also produces a popular science podcast called “The Insight” and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas and visiting professor at NYU-Abu Dhabi. Wells has started and run several personal genomics companies and projects including, most recently, Insitome, a genomic media company focused on immersive storytelling.

Wells holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University, and has conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford University and Oxford University.