Department of Biology
Professor; Director, Highlands Biological Station
Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1992
M.S., University of Georgia, 1988
B.S., SUNY Cortland, 1985
Darwin and the Origin of Species: A field course (Highlands Biological Station)
Darwin's Origin of Species (BIOL 420/520)
Biogeography (BIOL 632)
Insect Behavior (Highlands Biological Station)
Evolution in the Blue Ridge: Teaching Darwin with Darwin (Highlands Biological Station)
co-Instructor, Darwin and the Origins of Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Summer Darwin Program, Oxford University, Oxford, UK. (2005-2014)
co-Director and Instructor, UNC-CH Institute for the Environment Highlands Field Site semester-in-residence program (Highlands Biological Station)
Smith, C., J. T. Costa, and D. Collard (eds.). 2019. An Alfred Russel Wallace Companion. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 416 pp.
Costa, J.T. 2017. Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory. New York: W. W. Norton, 464pp.
Costa, J. T. 2014. Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 352 pp.
Costa, J. T. 2013. On the Organic Law of Change: An Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace's Species Notebook of 1855-1859 . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 559 pp.
Costa, J. T. (Author) and R. M. Sargent (Photographer). 2012. Highlands Botanical Garden: A Naturalist's Guide. Highlands, NC: Highlands Biological Foundation, Inc., 250 pp.
Costa, J. T. 2009. The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 576 pp.
Costa, J. T. 2006. The Other Insect Societies. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 812 pp.
Selected recent papers and book chapters:
Smith, C. H, J. T. Costa, and M. Glaubrecht. Alfred Russel Wallace’s “Die Permanenz der Continente und Oceane.” Archives of Natural History, 46(2): 265–282.
Costa, J. T. 2018. The other insect societies: Overview and new directions. Special Issue on Social Evolution. Current Opinion in Insect Science 28: 40–49.
Lihoreau, M., T. Gómez-Moracho, C. Pasquaretta, J. T. Costa, and J. Buhl. 2018. Social nutrition: An emerging field in insect science. Special Issue on Social Evolution. Current Opinion in Insect Science 28: 73–80.
Woodley, S.K., J.T. Costa, and R. Bruce. 2017. Introduction to the Special Highlands Conference on Plethodontid Salamander Biology. Herpetologica 73: 177-179
Morris, J. R., J. T. Costa, and A. Berry. 2015. Adaptations: Using Darwin’s Origin to teach biology and writing. Evolution 69: 2556-2560.
Costa, J. T. 2015b. Sailing the backyard Beagle: Darwin-inspired voyages of discovery in backyard and schoolyard. pp. 131-146 In: C. Boulter, D. Sanders, and M. Reiss (eds.), Darwin-Inspired Learning. Rotterdam and Boston: Sense Publishers.
Costa, J. T. 2014. Rediscovering Wallace's 'Species Notebook.' Reports of the National Center for Science Education 34(3): 1.1-1.5.
Costa, J. T. 2013a. Hamiltonian inclusive fitness: A fitter fitness concept. Biology Letters 9: 20130335.
Costa, J. T. 2013b. Engaging with Lyell: Alfred Russel Wallace's Sarawak Law and Ternate papers as reactions to Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology. Theory in Biosciences 132(4): 225–237.
Costa, J. T. 2013c. Synonymy and its discontents: Alfred Russel Wallace's nomenclatural proposals from the 'Species Notebook' of 1855–1859. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 70: 131-148.
Costa, J. T. 2013d. On the Organic Law of Change: Alfred Russel Wallace and the book that should have been. Evolve [Natural History Museum, London] 17: 30-33.
Costa, J. T. 2012. New landscapes and new eyes: The many voyages of Charles Darwin. pp. 42-55 In: S. G. da Silva et al. (eds.) (Dis)Entangling Darwin: Cross-Disciplinary Reflections on the Man and His Legacy. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Costa, J. T. 2009. Darwinian revelation: tracing the origin and evolution of an idea. BioScience 59: 886-894.
Selected magazine articles, book reviews, encyclopedia entries:
Costa, J. T. 2019. Book Review: The Truth about Animals: Stoned Sloths, Love-lorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife, by Lucy Cooke. Quarterly Review of Biology 94: 218–219.
Costa, J. T. 2019. Social Evolution in “Other” Insects and Arachnids. pp. 617–631 In: Choe, J.C. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2nd ed., vol. 4. Elsevier, Academic Press. [2019 update of 2010 article]
Costa, J. T. 2018. The impish side of evolution's icon. American Scientist 106: 104–111.
Costa, J. T. 2017. On the face of it: Darwin and the evolution of expression. Undark Magazine, 3 November 2017: https://undark.org/article/wilo-darwin-evolution
Costa, J. T. 2015. The consilient Mr. Wallace. Skeptic Magazine 20(3): 18-23.
Costa, J. T. and G. Beccaloni. 2014. Deepening the darkness? Alfred Russel Wallace in the Malay Archipelago. Current Biology 24(22): R1070-R1072. [Book Review]
Costa, J. T. 2013. On the Organic Law of Change: Alfred Russel Wallace and the book that should have been. Evolve [Natural History Museum, London] 17: 30-33.
Costa, J. T. 2010. Translated from the Origin(al): A review of The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species, by David N. Reznick. BioScience 60: 648-649. [Book Review]
Selected recent lectures, keynote addresses, workshops, panel discussions:
Organizer and speaker, A ‘Central and Controlling Incident:’ Celebrating The Malay Archipelago and the Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Linnean Society of London, London, UK; 7 November 2019.
Costa, J. T. 2019. An unnatural naturalness? On the nature of humanity and perspectives on the Anthropocene. Humanities in the Age of Globalization conference, Akaki Tsereteli State University, Kutaisi, Georgia, 1–2 November 2019.
Sigma Xi Lecturer and 'Science on Tap' presenter, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 25–26 March 2019.
40th Darwin Festival Lecture, Salem State University, Salem, MA, 14 February 2019: Charles Darwin’s ‘Fool’s Experiments’ – Lessons from an Inveterate “Experimentiser.”
Darwin Day Lecture, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, 12 February 2019: Darwinian Revelation: A Primer to Charles Darwin's 'One Long Argument.'
Keynote Speaker, Dahlonega Science and Literary Festival, Dahlonega, GA, 24 March 2018. (R)evolutionary War: Darwin’s Origin & Descent, Scientific & Literary Influence.
Darwin Day Lecture, Department of Integrative Biology, UC-Berkeley, 8 February 2018: Darwin’s Backyard.
Costa, J. T. 2017. Darwin's Backyard launch talks and events: Decatur Book Festival (2 September 2017), Harvard Museum of Natural History (14 September 2017), Google Cambridge (14 September 2017), NY Botanical Garden (22 September 2017), Down House, UK (6 October 2017), Oxford University Museum of Natural History (13 October 2017).
Costa, J. T. 2017. Convincing Lyell: Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, and the Great Transmutation Debate. 4th annual Alfred Russel Wallace Lecture. University College London, UK, 14 October 2017.
Costa, J. T. 2016. Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail. Darwin Day speaker, Gray Fossil Site, Gray, TN, 6 February 2016.
Costa, J. T. 2015a. Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail. 25th Joseph LeConte Lecture, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, 28 September 2015.
Costa, J. T. 2015b. Charles Darwin: Zealous in Research. Keynote speaker, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society Banquet, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, 27 April 2015.
Costa, J. T. 2015c. Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail. Valentine to Alfred Russel Wallace Darwin Day event, Daily Planet Theater, Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC, February 2015.
Costa, J. T. 2015d. Teaching Darwin With Darwin, or, Sailing the Backyard Beagle. Darwin Day speaker, Western Carolina University, February 2015.
Costa, J. T. 2015e. In Celebration of the Darwin Manuscripts. Speaker and Panelist, Darwin Goes Digital: Celebrating the Darwin Manuscripts Project, American Museum of Natural History, New York, 10 February 2015.
Costa, J. T. 2014a. The Other Darwin: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Origin of Species. Science Café, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC, June 2014.
Costa, J. T. 2014b. Sailing the backyard Beagle: Darwin-inspired "MacGyver science" for home and school. Keynote Address, Experiencing Evolution: A Professional Development Workshop for Undergraduate Educators. Society for the Study of Evolution, June 2014.
Costa, J. T. 2014c. The Force of Admiration: Insights from Alfred Russel Wallace's 'Species Notebook' of 1855-1859. ALLELE speaker, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Costa, J. T. 2014d. Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species. 2nd Annual Alfred Russel Wallace Lecture. Natural History Museum, London, UK, 30 July 2014.
Costa, J. T. 2014e. Bartram: Well Traveled. Following in the Bartrams’ Footsteps Exhibition Lecture Series, North Carolina Botanical Garden, UNC-Chapel Hill, 24 August 2014.
Costa, J. T. 2014f. Educational outposts: The field station tradition of biological sciences education in the United States. History of Teaching Natural History conference, Horniman Museum, London, UK, 10-11 October 2014.
Costa, J. T. 2013a. 'The Force of Admiration,' or, the Consilient Mr. Wallace: Insights from Alfred Russel Wallace's 'Species Notebook' of 1855-1859. Science Connections public talk, Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC, 20 November 2013.
Costa, J. T. 2013b. Wallace, Darwin, and Natural Selection & The Consilient Mr. Wallace: Insights from Alfred Russel Wallace's 'Species Notebook' of 1855-1859. Two talks for Wallace Centenary: Natural Selection and Beyond, American Museum of Natural History, New York, 12 November 2013.
Costa, J. T. 2013c. On the Organic Law of Change: Alfred Russel Wallace's evolutionary insights and arguments in his "Species Notebook" of 1855-1859. Unremitting Passion for the Beauty and Mystery of the Natural World: Linnean Society of London & Society for the History of Natural History joint Alfred Russel Wallace Centenary Event, Bournemouth, UK, 7 June 2013.
Costa, J. T. 2012. Bartram’s Travels in Zone VIII. Keynote Address, Garden Club of America National Meeting, Savannah, GA, April 2012.
Selected Honors and Awards
Finalist, 2018 AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books for Darwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory.
2017 Wallace Medal; Alfred Russel Wallace Memorial Fund, London
2017–2019 Distinguished Lecturer Program; Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society
2016 Million Dollar Circle Award; Sponsored Programs, Western Carolina University
2015 25th Joseph LeConte Scholar; Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia
2014, 2015 Outstanding Educator in Conservation Award [Finalist]; Wild South, Asheville, North Carolina
2013 Fellow; Linnean Society of London
2012-2013 Fellow in Residence; Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin [Berlin Institute for Advanced Study], Berlin, Germany
2012 Alumnus of the Year; State University of New York College at Cortland, Cortland, NY
2012 Outstanding Biodiversity Educator of the Year; Discover Life, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2011 Partnership Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education [to Highlands Biological Station]; North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center, Research Triangle Park, NC
2004-2007 H. F. and Katherine P. Robinson Professorship; Department of Biology, Western Carolina University
2004-2005 Jeanne Rosselet Fellow; Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
2002 University Scholar Award; Western Carolina University
1999 Hunter Scholar Award; Western Carolina University
Interviews & recorded lectures:
Hunter Library, Western Carolina University, DNA & Ancestry project speaker, 24 January 2019: Ancestry and Genetics. https://wcu.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=777c2fe2-c365-473e-9387-a9e0012d0e54
4th Alfred Russel Wallace Lecture, University College London, 15 October 2017 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsHPEALemsg).
English Heritage Blog interview on Darwin's Backyard, 4 October 2017 (http://blog.english-heritage.org.uk/how-charles-darwins-garden-inspired-the-theory-of-evolution).
Science Friday interview on Darwin's Backyard, 29 September 2017 (https://www.sciencefriday.com/person/james-t-costa).
C-SPAN TV, NY Botanical Garden lecture on Darwin's Backyard, 22 September 2017 (https://www.c-span.org/video/?434101-2/darwins-backyard).
Google Cambridge talk on Darwin's Backyard, 14 September 2017 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxKnWYlfwXw).
In Defense of Plants podcast interview on Darwin's Backyard, 3 September 2017 (http://www.indefenseofplants.com/podcast/2017/9/3/ep-124-darwins-backyard).
The State of Things NPR radio program interview on Darwin's Backyard, 31 August 2017 (http://wunc.org/post/beyond-galapagos-what-was-darwin-s-backyard#stream/0).