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Walter P. Kistler Book Award


HOME | NOMINATION PROCESS | RECIPIENTS 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008


Spencer Wells, 2004 Winner of the Walter P. Kistler Book Award

The Foundation For the Future selected geneticist, writer, and filmmaker Dr. Spencer Wells to receive the Walter P. Kistler Book Award for 2004. Dr. Wells received the award for his book The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, which, through the science of population genetics, tracks humanity’s most distant ancestors and reveals how and when the human species spread from its origin in Africa. The presentation ceremony was on March 11, 2020, at Kane Hall, on the University of Washington campus. Wells also wrote and narrated the PBS science documentary film, Journey of Man. He is a National Geographic Society Fellow and the former Head of the Population Genetics Research Group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University, UK.

The Journey of Man was first published in the UK (Penguin, 2002), then in the USA (Princeton University Press, 2003; paperback, Random House, February 2004), and has been translated into eight other languages.

The Walter P. Kistler Book Award is given annually to authors of science-based books that significantly increase the knowledge and understanding of the public regarding subjects that will shape the future of our species. It includes a cash prize of US$10,000 and a certificate, and is presented personally by the originator of the award program, Walter Kistler, benefactor of the Foundation.


“Accepting the evidence at face value, the implication is that Adam lived in population groups directly ancestral to the modern San, in eastern and/or southern Africa, around 60,000 years ago. The date of the earliest modern human populations – the first of our species – remains to be assessed, and could be anywhere between 60,000 and several hundred thousand years ago.”

—Dr. Spencer Wells, The Journey of Man