Richard Sternberg

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture

Richard Sternberg is an evolutionary biologist with interests in the relation between genes and morphological homologies, and the nature of genomic “information.” He holds two Ph.D.'s: one in Biology (Molecular Evolution) from Florida International University and another in Systems Science (Theoretical Biology) from Binghamton University. From 2001-2007, he served as a staff scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and from 2001-2007 was a Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Sternberg is presently a research scientist at the Biologic Institute, supported by a research fellowship from the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He is also a Research Collaborator at the National Museum of Natural History.

From 2001-2004, Sternberg served as Managing Editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, and has also served on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of General Systems. In 1999, he was a Visiting Associate Professor of Biology at Northern Michigan University, and from 1999-2001 was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History. He has received postdoctoral fellowships from both the NIH and the National Museum of Natural History, and has published refereed articles in such journals as Genetica, Evolutionary Theory, Journal of Comparative Biology, Crustacean Research, Journal of Natural History, Journal of Morphology, Journal of Biological Systems, and the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

For a more detailed discussion of his approach to biology, see his essay, "How My Views on Evolution Evolved." For information about Dr. Sternberg's mistreatment by the Smithsonian Institution due to his sympathy for intelligent design, see the Smithsonian Controversy page from his personal website, RichardSternberg.com.

Archives

Richard Sternberg on the Trail of the Immaterial Genome

On this episode of ID the Future, Dr. Richard Sternberg, research fellow at the Biologic Institute, speaks on his mathematical/logical work showing the difficulty of identifying genes purely with material phenomena, and that DNA doesn’t have all that’s needed to direct the development of organisms.

Dr. Richard Sternberg: Whale Evolution and Living Waters, Pt. 2

On this second episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin interviews Dr. Richard Sternberg, evolutionary biologist and CSC Senior Fellow, whose discussion of whale origins is featured in Illustra Media’s new documentary, Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth. Sternberg critiques conventional accounts of whale evolution, noting that neither natural selection or neutral drift cannot explain the transition between a land mammal and a fully aquatic whale. Standard evolutionary models would either require very large breeding population sizes (greater than that of any species of mammals) or a waiting period four or more times longer than the given 8-9 million years.

Dr. Richard Sternberg: Whale Evolution and Living Waters

In this first episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin interviews Dr. Richard Sternberg, evolutionary biologist and CSC Senior Fellow, whose discussion of whale origins is featured in Illustra Media’s documentary, Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth. Sternberg critiques whale evolution, noting that the timespan is too short for the bodyplan modifications needed to transition from a land mammal to a whale.

On Human Origins: Is Our Genome Full of Junk DNA? Pt 5

On this episode of ID the Future, biologist Richard Sternberg continues with the fifth part of his presentation of evidence that refutes the myth that the human genome is full of junk DNA. This is the second in a series from a recent Science and Human Origins conference featuring Dr. Sternberg, John West, Ann Gauger and Casey Luskin.

On Human Origins: Is Our Genome Full of Junk DNA? Pt 4

On this episode of ID the Future, biologist Richard Sternberg continues with the fourth part of his presentation of evidence that refutes the myth that the human genome is full of junk DNA. This is the second in a series from a recent Science and Human Origins conference featuring Dr. Sternberg, John West, Ann Gauger and Casey Luskin.

On Human Origins: Is Our Genome Full of Junk DNA? Pt 3

On this episode of ID the Future, biologist Richard Sternberg continues with the third part of his presentation of evidence that refutes the myth that the human genome is full of junk DNA. This is the second in a series from a recent Science and Human Origins conference featuring Dr. Sternberg, John West, Ann Gauger and Casey Luskin.

On Human Origins: Is Our Genome Full of Junk DNA? Pt 2.

On this episode of ID the Future, biologist Richard Sternberg continues his presentation evidence that refutes the myth that the human genome is full of junk DNA. This is the second in a series from a recent Science and Human Origins conference featuring Dr. Sternberg, John West, Ann Gauger and Casey Luskin.

On Human Origins: Is Our Genome Full of Junk DNA?

On this episode of ID the Future, hear a clip from a recent Science and Human Origins conference featuring biologist Richard Sternberg. Dr. Sternberg presents evidence that refutes the myth that the human genome is full of junk DNA.

Let’s Do the Math Again

Earlier today I criticized Calvin College biologist Steve Matheson’s incorrect view of “junk” DNA. Matheson had argued in February that the human genome contains about 190,000 introns (stretches of non-protein-coding DNA that interrupt protein-coding genes), of which “only a handful” had important functional roles. “How many? Oh, probably a dozen,” he wrote, “but let’s be really generous. Let’s say that a hundred introns in the human genome are known to have ‘important functional roles.’ Oh fine, let’s make it a thousand.”On the contrary, I pointed out that at least 90% of genes are alternatively spliced, meaning that 0.9 x 190,000 = 171,000 introns are involved in alternative splicing, an essential process that helps to ensure that the proper proteins are Read More ›

Matheson’s Intron Fairy Tale

The failure to recognize the importance of introns “may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” –John Mattick, Molecular biologist, University of Queensland, quoted in Scientific American On Friday, May 14, I watched as Steve Meyer faced his critics — two of them anyway, Art Hunt and Steve Matheson — at Biola University in Los Angeles. Matheson had previously claimed that Meyer misrepresented introns in his book, Signature in the Cell. (Introns are non-protein-coding sequences of DNA that occur within protein-coding regions.) In a blog post dated February 14, Matheson had accused Meyer of “some combination of ignorance, sloth, and duplicity” for stating in his book that although introns do not encode Read More ›

Beginning to Decipher the SINE Signal

Remember the analogy of the two moons I used yesterday to discuss the distribution of SINEs in the mouse and rat genomes? Well, I am going to use it again today, but only for a moment. Moon Mysteries and the Lunarlogos Foundation Suppose you are keenly interested in the topography of one of the moons, named Y6-9. Suppose also that the books you first select to read on the topic are popular works, written by “experts” who are “living legends.” As you read through the works, you find paragraphs here and there about how utterly decrepit Y6-9 is, and how this space body exemplifies eons of random events. The authors argue that we already knew all there was to know Read More ›

Discovering Signs in the Genome by Thinking Outside the BioLogos Box

Yesterday I promised that I would show you a mysterious genomic signal, and today I shall fulfill that promise. The previous blog was devoted to describing the linear distribution of LINEs and SINEs along mammalian chromosomal DNA. We saw that L1 retrotransposons tend to be densest in the regions where Alus and Alu-like elements are the least common and vice versa. I included the following figure from an article co-authored by Francis Collins1 that showed this compartmentalization of LINEs and SINEs along over a hundred million genetic letters of rat chromosome 10: The blue line indicates the distribution of SINEs along a 110-million base pair interval of rat chromosome 10. (From Fig. 9d of Ref. 1.) Taxon-Specific Elements: The SINEs Read More ›

Ayala and Falk Miss the Signs in the Genome

In his recent response to Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, Francisco Ayala claimed that repetitive portions of our DNA called “Alu” sequences are “nonsensical.” Ayala wrote: “Would a function ever be found for these one million nearly identical Alu sequences? It seems most unlikely.” In his response to Ayala, Meyer showed that Ayala is factually wrong about this. According to recent technical papers in genomics, Alu sequences perform multiple functions. In a rejoinder to Meyer, Darrel Falk defended Ayala and claimed although “a number of functional regions have been discovered within Alu sequences,” there “is no question that many Alu sequences really have no function.” In my last blog, I showed that the vast majority of the genome is Read More ›

Asking Darrel Falk to Pick a Number, Any Number

I have long questioned the assumption that most genomic DNA sequences are “nonsensical” or “junk.” And given the data that have emerged over the past seven or so years, a functionalist view of genome has robust empirical support. It is for this reason that I think many of the arguments presented by the Biologos Foundation are “wrong on many counts,” to borrow a phrase from Darrel Falk. Here is an example. While reading the “critique” of Steve Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell, by Francisco Ayala, a number struck me that I know to be incorrect. The integer that I am referring to is “25,000” and it is claimed to be the known tally of genes in our chromosomes: The Read More ›