The Frog Scientist

The Frog Scientist

book cover image from

Turner, Pamela S.  Photographs by Andy Comins.  The Frog Scientist.  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. 2009. ISBN 978-0-618-71716-3.

The Frog Scientist, is such an amazing book.  It’s about this research scientist, Dr. Tyrone Hayes, who works at UC Berkeley.  Now if you think, “I don’t want to read about a research scientist”, I have to tell you that  Dr. Hayes does NOT look or act like what you might think a research scientist should look or act like.  He has his ears pierced, loves playing practical jokes, and is really just a big kid himself.

Tyrone was born in 1967, so he’s the age of perhaps a lot of your parents.  He was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina.  As a kid, he loved collecting frogs, snakes and lizards.  He knew he wanted a career in science.  One day when he was watching a television show called Green Acres he heard a university called ‘Harvard’ mentioned.  He thought it sounded like a good place and applied.  Fortunately for him, he had really good grades and good test scores, and got in.  However, he had a really rough time and almost dropped out.

He did graduate from Harvard (with honors!), he got married, and moved to California to go to UC Berkeley for graduate school.  He continued studying frogs, trying to understand why so many frogs are threatened with extinction.  In 1995, middle school students found a leopard frog that was deformed.  It has an extra leg growing out of its chin.

He has done a lot of research on a widely used pesticide called atrazine that possibly hurts frogs.  One of the discoveries that his research has uncovered is that male frogs who are raised in atrazine-contaminated water look fine on the outside, but on the inside, they are growing female reproductive organs in addition to their male reproductive organs.   If male frogs can’t reproduce, then this could possibly explain why frog populations have been on the decline.

Tyrone and his student workers are obviously working on something very serious, but they do take time out to have fun. Tyrone and his wife will often have his students over for a bbq and Tyrone is known for his practical jokes.

Dr. Hayes and his research has been in the news a lot lately. To find out more about this really cool scientist, read The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner.

Genre: Nonfiction (Dewey Decimal 597.8)

Tags: frogs, research, science, scientist, pesticide, UC Berkeley, Hayes

Series: This book is part of the “Scientist in the Field” series.

A/R Reading level:  6.3

Interest level:  Grades 5-8

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog: The Frog Scientist

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