Dr Adam Rutherford
Geneticist, author, broadcaster, and patron of Humanists UK
‘Racism is not wrong because it's based on scientifically specious ideas. Racism is wrong, because it's an affront to human dignity, the rights of people… the respect that individuals are due by dint of being human are not predicated on biology – nor should they be.’
Born in 1975, Adam studied evolutionary genetics at University College London (UCL), followed by a PhD in developmental genetics of the retina at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. He is now a lecturer at UCL – where he teaches the history of eugenics, race science, genetics, and science communication – as well as at universities around the world. Adam was the recipient of the Royal Society David Attenborough Award for public engagement with science in 2021.
Adam began his broadcasting career as an editor at the journal Nature before writing and presenting documentaries for BBC radio and television. He presented the BBC Radio 4 programme Inside Science from 2013 to 2021, and currently presents Start the Week and (with Hannah Fry) The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. He has made programmes on topics including long Covid, AI and robotics, MMR and autism, and scientific fraud. He has also produced and presented a number of BBC programmes including The Cell on BBC Four and Horizon: Playing God on BBC Two.
He is also the author of six books relating to genetics and the origin of life, including two Sunday Times bestsellers: How to Argue with a Racist (2020), Rutherford and Fry’s Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything (2021), and most recently Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics (2022). He is a frequent contributor to the Observer, Guardian and Mail on Sunday, writing primarily on science topics, and has acted as a science advisor on programmes and films including Ex Machina (2015) and Annihilation (2018).
In 2019, Adam delivered Humanists UK’s 2019 Voltaire Lecture, How to argue with a racist, which later became the basis for his 2020 bestselling book of the same name. His lecture, and indeed, much of Adam’s work, challenges false claims from religion, pseudoscience, and simple prejudice, emphasising instead our common humanity and our capacity to build a better society.