"What is Life? A Guide to Biology" is a biology textbook written specifically for students majoring in a field other than biology. The 661-page second edition was published in November 2011 by W.H. Freeman; nearly every chapter was revised based on feedback from instructors and students.
Jay Phelan, the author of "What is Life? A Guide to Biology," holds a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Harvard and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Yale and UCLA. His primary area of research is evolutionary genetics, and his original research has been widely published.
A wide range of topics are covered in the book, including an overview of scientific thinking; chemistry; cells; DNA, gene expression and biotechnology; chromosomes and cell division; genes and how traits are inherited; evolution and natural selection; animal behavior; the origins and diversification of life on Earth; plants and fungi; the unseen world of microbes; population ecology; ecosystems and communities; and conservation and biodiversity.
The publisher's website offers a free and open collection of resources for teaching and learning the materials. These resources include quizzes to test readers' knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, ideas for connecting biology to life, a glossary of key terms, lecture companion art, animations, lecture videos and podcasts.