A biologist whose heresy redraws Earth's tree of life
She may cause a revolution in evolution yet: her theory that life evolved through cooperation and symbiosis, not through competition, was once scoffed at, and is now gaining widespread respect. Here, a profile of Margulis by writer Jeanne McDermott of Cambridge, Massachussetts, author of The Killing Winds (Arbor House, 1987).

The first thing everyone notices about Lynn Margulis is that it's impossible to keep up with her. She dresses for comfort but her mind obviously thrives on work. She wears corduroy jeans and a colorful Peruvian sweater, a gift from one of her four children. She rises at 5:30 and bicycles to her modest book- lined office at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst before the rest of the campus awakens. "That's when I get my work done," she says.
From 9 to 5, the quiet dissolves into a whirlwind of activity. Friends and colleagues have a shorthand way of acknowledging her prodigious energy.
"Oh, you know Lynn," they say.

As the director of a S100,000- a- year research lab, she taught two or three courses at Boston University every semester for 22 years, and is continuing this work at the University of Massachusetts. She has authored more than 130 scientific articles and 7 books. She rarely sits still. Her speech is nonstop and, in the jargon of her profession, filled with references to DNA homologies, microtubules and antitubulin probes. She interrupts and digresses constantly because one idea triggers an avalanche of others. She likes to make daring statements such as, "The nervous system is explicable in terms of microbiology." "That's propaganda" is her way of dismissing dogma, which she hates. She is restless, passionately curious,
irreverent, sassy and very sharp.

One colleague calls her the most gifted theoretical biologist of her generation. Another, of the century. Her mind keeps shooting off sparks," says Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a MacArthur Fellow. "Some critics say she's off in left field. To me, she's one of the most exciting, original thinkers in the whole field of biology."Margulis is an authority on the microcosmos. She likely knows more than anyone else about the role of microorganisms in the past 3.5 billion years of evolution. While most American biologists emphasize the role of competition in evolution, Margulis stresses symbiosis. For example, she views each human cell as a "sophisticated aggregate of evolving microbial life." We are made, if you will, of conglomerated bacteria.

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