A letter to Nature makes the case:
Nobels: Fundamental biology misses out
P. William Hughes
Nature 479, 178 (10 November 2011) doi:10.1038/479178c
Published online 09 November 2011
In 1895, Alfred Nobel bequeathed much of his immense fortune to create the five original Nobel prizes — for literature, physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry, and peace. The award categories were expanded to include economics in 1968, following a large donation to the Nobel Foundation on behalf of the Swedish central bank, by the creation of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
The symbolic recognition of the work of Nobel laureates increases awareness of scientific research in the eyes of the public. It is a continuing shame that fundamental biology — and not just its application in medicine — lacks such a patron.
(You have to pay to read the rest.)
Here, blogger Wavefunction explains,
Perhaps Hughes means discoveries in “non-molecular” biology including ecology, evolutionary biology. But I believe that these fields are often honored by the Crafoord Prize which has gone to thinkers like E O Wilson, Robert May and William Hamilton. Maybe the Crafoord doesn’t quite satisfy biologists’ Nobel cravings because only one prize is awarded every year to different fields. It’s also sort of odd that the Nobel Prize in medicine was only once awarded to ethologists studying animal behavior, and perhaps they should hand out more of those. But in any case, I think there have been ample prizes awarded to fundamental biological discoveries, so it doesn’t seem very meaningful to me to institute a separate prize for biology. And ultimately of course, there’s not much point getting hung up over any of these prizes since the work done by these scientists speaks for itself.
Some of us are more worried about the prize going to evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology’s idiot child.
What’s really needed is a prize recognizing plausible non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution.
Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista