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How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog

The 90, Room 211
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Dr. Lee A. Dugatkin

Dr. Lee A. Dugatkin
University of Louisville


For the last six decades a dedicated team of researchers in Siberia has been domesticating silver foxes to replay the evolution of the dog in real time. Lyudmila Trut has been lead scientist on this work since 1959, and together with biologist and historian of science, Lee Dugatkin, she tells the inside story of the science, politics, adventure and love behind it all. Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, How to Tame a Fox {and Build a Dog} opens up to reveal story after story, each embedded within the one that preceded it.  Inside this tale of path-breaking science in the midst of the often brutal -35° winters of Siberia is hidden a remarkable collaboration between an older, freethinking scientific genius and a trusting, but gutsy young woman.  Together these two risked not just their careers, but to an extent their lives, to make scientific history. If you go one level deeper, you find yourself lost in the magical tale of how some hardscrabble but openhearted humans and the wild animals that they domesticated developed such deep attachments to each other that both seemed to forget the species divide between them.


"A story that is part science, part Russian fairy tale, and part spy thriller. . . Sparkling."

(New York Times Book Review)

"Dugatkin is a veteran science writer with a knack for turning sprawling subjects into compact, enjoyable narratives. Ms. Trut, now in her 80s, is both a co-author and a subject of the book...her intense participation adds a rare degree of intimacy to this science story."

(Wall Street Journal)


"... an extraordinary story, and How to Tame a Fox tells it well. . . .."

(Times Literary Supplement)