ROBERT SHAPIRO (1935-2011) was professor emeritus of chemistry and senior research scientist at New York University. He was author or co-author of over 125 publications, primarily in the area of DNA chemistry. In particular, he and his co-workers studied the ways in which environmental chemicals can damage our hereditary material, causing changes that can lead to mutations and cancer. In 2004, he was awarded the Trotter Prize in Information, Complexity and Inference. Shapiro wrote four books for the general public: Life Beyond Earth (with Gerald Feinberg); Origins, a Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth; The Human Blueprint (on the effort to read the human genome); and Planetary Dreams (on the search for life in our Solar System).