From microorganisms to whales, from single cells to complex organisms, from plants to animals to fungi, from body plans to behavior, the diversity of life is amazing. Living organisms have a profound impact on our physical world of ocean, landscape, and climate; around us is a multitude of diverse ecosystems that provide a livable environment and many valuable resources. The study of life—biology—is a multifaceted endeavor that uses observation, exploration, and experiments to gather information and test hypotheses about topics ranging from climate change to stem cells. The field of biology is so diverse that it can sometimes be hard for one individual to keep its breadth in mind. | THE ROLE OF THEORY IN ADVANCING 21ST-CENTURY BIOLOGY Catalyzing Transformative Research THE ROLE OF THEORY IN ADVANCING 21st-Century biology Catalyzing Transformative Research Report of the Committee on Defining and Advancing the Conceptual Basis of Biological Sciences in the 21st Century Board on Life Sciences Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington . THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street NW Washington DC 20001 NOTICE The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DBI-0633909. Any opinions findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation nor does mention of trade names commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the . government. International Standard Book Number-13 978-0-309-11249-9 Book International Standard Book Number-10 0-309-11249-4 Book International Standard Book Number-13 978-0-309-11250-5 PDF International Standard Book Number-10 0-309-11250-8 PDF Library of Congress Control Number 2007940783 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street NW Lockbox 285 Washington DC 20055 800 624-6242 or 202 334-3313 in the Washington metropolitan area Internet http . edu. Cover Design by Francesca Moghari artwork by Nicolle Rager Fuller . Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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