You sometimes hear that blind people have disadvantages. Don't say it to Geerat Vermeij. He got into graduate school at Yale after proving to the faculty he could identify shells through their shape and feel - using samples at random from their collection.
Vermeij, now 60, contracted a rare childhood form of glaucoma and has been blind since age 3. He discovered his love of shells attending school in New Jersey at age 9, where his family had moved because they liked that state's policies on educating the blind more than their native Holland.
"I thought of them as beautiful works of art," he said.
Now Vermeij is best known for his work highlighting the impact of competition among species in evolution.