The UCL Centre for Life’s Origins and Evolution - CLOE - was launched in November 2017 with the aim of uniting the existing diverse strengths in research across the study of evolutionary biology. CLOE was founded by Prof Max Telford, Prof Anjali Goswami and Prof Nick Lane as an interdisciplinary hub gathering evolutionary biologists, paleontologists and even chemists who study fossils, computer algorithms, plant herbarium specimens or embryos, as a means to reconstruct and understand the pattern of evolution across the tree of life. The founding director CLOE is Prof Max Telford.
Since the foundation of UCL, research in and around the Darwin building (built on the site of Darwin’s own house) has been instrumental in laying the foundations of modern evolutionary biology.
The labs that line Gower Street have hosted various giants of evolutionary biology including JBS Haldane, RA Fisher, Gavin De Beer, JZ Young, John Maynard Smith and George Price. This tradition continues today with world-class research carried out in the Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment, and extending across multiple other departments. UCL has one of the strongest and most diverse groups of evolutionary biologists in any UK university.
The organismal tradition at UCL goes back to Robert Edmond Grant who was the first professor of comparative anatomy at UCL and promoted early evolutionary views regarding the unicity of animal body plans. He was the teacher of Charles Darwin in his young years and he left a broad body of work on animal groups such as sponges, corals and sea slugs.