Nathan H. Lents
Nathan H.
Professor of Biology
Phone number
Room number
Office: 05.61.06; Lab 05.62
  • B.S., Biology, Saint Louis University (1999)
  • Ph.D., Pharmacology and Physiology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine (2004)
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Genomics, New York University (2006)

My research lab currently has two active projects. First, we are studying the recent evolution of the human genome in an effort to help understand the genetic underpinnings of human uniqueness. Of particular interest are genes and other genetic elements that are unique to humans and extinct relatives and that distinguish us from the other African apes. We are engaged in a genome-scale effort to discover and characterize these human-specific genes and infer their evolutionary origin. Secondly, our laboratory is examining the unique evolution of microRNA genes in Neanderthals, Denisovans, and modern humans, and how these small regulators may influence the gene expression networks resposible for the unique phenotypes of each of those species. 

I also write popular science books, articles, and I blog at The Human Evolution Blog and Psychology Today under tagline Beastly Behavior: How Evolution Shaped Our Minds and Bodies. 

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

JJC Affiliations
Director (2022-present, 2014-2015), Cell and Molecular Biology major, Biology minor
Courses Taught
  • Bio101-104: Introductory Biology
  • Bio205: Eukaryotic Cell Biology
  • Bio/Gen255: The Biology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Bio315: Genetics 
  • Bio355: Human Physiology
  • MHC225: Science and Society
  • Hon401: Honors Senior Capstone Seminar
  • Fos402: Undergraduate Research Internship
  • Forensic DNA Analysis (University of Lincoln, UK)




Professional Memberships
  • American Association of Biological Anthropology (AABA), Chair, Genetics and Genomics Program Committee, AABA annual conference
  • Visiting Professor of Forensic Science, Univerity of Lincoln (UK) 
  • Former Director (2015-2019), Honors Program and Macaulay Honors College at John Jay
  • Former Deputy Chair (2010-2014), Department of Sciences
Scholarly Work


1. Lents NH.  Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Defects, from Broken Genes to Pointless Bones. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2018. Represented by the Marly Rusoff Literary Agency. Additional deals signed for the following markets to date: Taiwan, China, Korea, Japan, the UK, Norway.

2. Lents NH.  Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals. Columbia University Press. May 2016.

Scholarly Articles:  (10 Most recent)

  1. Johnson HR, Blandino JA, Mercado BC, Galván JA, Higgins WJ, and Lents NHThe Evolution of de novo Human-Specific MicroRNA Genes on Chromosome 21. Accepted 03-Jan 2022; Published online 03-Mar 2022.  American Journal of Biological Anthropology
  2. Lents NH, Swamidass SJ, Lenski RL. The End of Evolution? A Biochemist’s Crusade to Overturn Evolution Misrepresents Theory and Ignores EvidenceScience. 08-Feb 2019. v363(6427): p590.
  3. Lents NH and Piszczatowski RT. Cyclins. Cyclin-dependent Kinases, and CDK inhibitors. Appears in: Encyclopedia of Cell Biology, 2nd Ed. Vol. 3. Editors: Bradshaw RA, Hart GW, and Stahl PD. In-press, © 2022, Elsevier Academic Press, Oxford, UK.
  4. Srivastava T, Wu M, Kakhnovich J, Waithaka B, and Lents NH. A Three-locus, PCR-based Method for Forensic Identification of Plant Material. Submitted, Aug 2017. Journal of Forensic Sciences.
  5. Carpi A, Ronan DM, Falconer HM, and Lents NH. Cultivating Minority Scientists: Undergraduate Research Increases Self-Efficacy and Career Ambitions for Underrepresented Students in STEMJournal of Research in Science Teaching. Feb 2017. v54:2;169-194.
  6. Johnson HT, Trinidad DD, Guzman S, Parziale JV, DeBruyn JM, and Lents NH. A Machine Learning Approach for Using the Postmortem Skin Microbiome to Estimate the Postmortem Interval. PLoS ONE 23-Dec 2016. v11.12: e0167370.
  7. Piszczatowski RT and Lents NH. Regulation of the CCN Genes by Vitamin D: A Possible Adjuvant Therapy in the Treatment of Cancer and Fibrosis. (Invited Review) Cellular Signaling. July 2016. 28(10):1604-13.
  8. Lents NH and Baldassare JJ. Cyclins and Cyclin-dependent Kinases. In: Ralph A. Bradshaw and Philip D. Stahl (Editors-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of Cell Biology. Vol. 3  © 2015, Elsevier Academic Press, Oxford, U.K.
  9. Piszczatowski RT, Rafferty BJ, Rozado A, Parzale JV, and Lents NH. Myeloid Zinc Finger 1 Regulates Expression of the CCN2/CTGF and CCN3/NOV Genes in the Hematopoietic Compartment. Journal of Cellular Physiology. Nov 2015. v230(11);2634-39.
  10. Piszczatowski RT, Rafferty BJ, Rozado A, Tobak S, and Lents NH. The Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Gene (GAPDH) is Regulated by Myeloid Zinc Finger 1 (MZF-1) and Is Induced by Calcitriol. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 15 Aug 2014; v451(1);137-41.


Popular Articles:  (20 Most recent)

  1. “Mytho-History: The “Evolution” of Adam and Eve. Skeptic. v27(1) Jan/Feb 2022. pp28-32.
  2. “Behe, Bias, and Bears (oh my!): A Swing and a Miss for…”  Skeptical Inquirer.  Mar/Apr 2021
  3. “The lesson of Kitzmiller: Science bridges divides.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 28-Dec 2020.
  4. “Science bridges divides for a better world.” Pittsburgh Tribune. 19-Dec 2020.
  5. “Do-it-yourself kits to collect evidence could actually help rapists.”  Newsday.  07-Oct 2019.
  6. “Upcoming book leaves scientific possibility for existence of 'Adam and Eve'.” USA Today. 04-Oct 2019.
  7. “Stranger Danger: Review of The Human Swarm… by Mark Moffett.” Skeptic v24(4) 2019: p51-55.
  8. “Behe’s Last Stand: The Lion of Intelligent Design Roars Again” Skeptic v24(2) 2019: p36-41. [cover story]
  9. “Does Trump Fit the Evolutionary Role of Narcissistic…?” (w/ Robert Trivers) Arc Digital05-Nov 2018.
  10. “The Inevitability of Intelligent Life? A review of The Equations of Life…” Skeptic v23(4) 2018: p57-59.
  11. “6 choses étonnantes que vous ignorez sur votre corps.” Huffington Post (France). 03-July 2018.
  12. “Five Questions about Human Errors for Proponents of Intelligent Design.” Skeptic v.23(3)2018: pp.2-6.
  13. “The Glitches that Make Us Human.” i. (“The i” Newspaper, UK) 22-May 2018.
  14. “Evolution’s Worst Mistake? How About External Testicles?” Undark Magazine. 18-May 2018.
  15. “Cancer, mutations and the facts of life.” The Observer. 22-Apr 2018.
  16. “The Botch of the Human Body.” The Wall Street Journal. 14-Apr 2018.
  17. “What Biology Can Teach Us about Crime and Justice.” Lents NH and Kazemian L. Skeptic v22(4) Winter 2017: 12-19.
  18. "Big News on Homo naledi: More Fossils and a Surprising Young Age.” Skeptic v22(3) Fall 2017: 8-11.
  19. “Paleoanthropology Wars: The Discovery of Homo naledi Has Generated Considerable Controversy in This Scientific Discipline.”Skeptic v21(2) Summer 2016. 8-11.
  20. Homo naledi and the Problems with the Homo Genus.” The Wildernist. Issue #3, October 2015.



    Honors and Awards
    • 2018 Outstanding Scholarly Mentoring Award, John Jay College
    • 2017 Distinguished Alumnus, Pre-commencement Address, Graduate Programs in Biomedical Sciences; Saint Louis University
    • 2011 Research Excellence Award, John Jay College
    • 2009 Distinguished Teaching Award, John Jay College