April 17, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: Richard Lewontin

Wednesday, April 19
Gene, organism and environment

Richard C. Lewontin, Harvard University
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, Chemistry 1800, 830 N. University Ave.
Reception following in Chemistry atrium

Biologists often speak of genes as “determining” organisms and of the evolution of organisms as “adaptation” of organisms to a fixed external environment. The talk will show how these oversimplifications mask the true relationship among genes, organisms and environments.

You can view Dr. Lewontin's biography or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 12:28 PM

April 03, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speakers: Peter and Rosemary Grant

Wednesday, April 5
Exploring Evolution of Darwin’s Finches

Peter and Rosemary Grant, Princeton University
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor (Note new location!)
Co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Program and the Ann Arbor District Library

Fourteen species of Darwin's finches evolved on the Galápagos islands and Cocos island in the last two-three million years. We use the results of long-term field studies of Galápagos populations to help us understand this classical example of adaptive radiation.

You can view the Grants' biography or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 12:11 PM

March 20, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: Linda Partridge

Wednesday, March 22
Ageing and Medicine

Linda Partridge, University College London
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, 1800 Chemistry Building, 930 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Reception following in Chemistry atrium

Recent work on the biology of ageing has led to the surprising discovery that mutations in single genes can extend lifespan in laboratory animals. These findings both challenge some of the earlier conclusions of work on the evolution of ageing and hold some promise for understanding human ageing.

You can view Dr. Partridge's biography or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 12:10 PM

March 06, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: W. Ford Doolittle

Wednesday, March 8
The Tree of Life: is it really a web?

W. Ford Doolittle, Dalhousie University
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, Chemistry 1800, 930 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Reception following in Chemistry atrium

Darwin claimed that the history of Life can be "represented by a great tree". Many types of evidence, and especially gene sequence data, support this claim as far as complex life forms such as animals and plants are concerned. But for bacteria and archaebacteria, frequent transfer of genes across species lines complicates the picture: the pattern of relationships may be more web-like than tree-like. I will describe the evidence for this, and discuss whether or not it is appropriate to say that, in this context, Darwin was wrong.

You can view Dr. Doolittle's biography or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 12:17 PM

February 06, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: Richard Wrangham

Wednesday, February 8
Primate and human society

Richard Wrangham, Harvard University
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, Chemistry 1800, 930 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Reception following in Chemistry atrium

Human society is in some ways ape-like and in other ways unique. Our ape-like features appear explicable by the same rules that govern primate societies. Our unique traits, such as the sexual division of labor, depend on human specializations such as the adoption of cooking.

You can view Dr. Wrangham's biography (PDF) or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 09:11 AM

January 30, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: David Pilbeam

Wednesday, February 1
Forty years of thinking about the origins of the human lineage

David Pilbeam, Harvard University
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, 1800 Chemistry, 830 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Reception following in Chemistry atrium

Ideas about when and where the first hominids evolved, why they evolved, and what they and their immediate ape ancestors looked like, changed considerably over the past half-century. In discussing these shifts I will also reflect on what it has been like to participate in this rapidly changing field.

You can view Dr. Pilbeam's biography (PDF) or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 12:42 PM

January 23, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: Eugenie C. Scott

Wednesday, January 25
Intelligent Design and the Creationism/Evolution Controversy

Eugenie C. Scott, National Center for Science Education
Distinguished Speaker Series
7 pm, 1800 Chemistry Bldg., 930 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor
Reception following in Chemistry Atrium

"Intelligent Design" (ID) is a new form of creationism that emerged after legal decisions in the 1980s hampered the inclusion of "creation science" in the public school curriculum. ID consists of a scientific/scholarly effort, and a politico-religious movement of "cultural renewal." In the 20 years since ID appeared, there has been no evidence of it being used to solve problems in biology. Although the scientific/scholarly part of ID has been a failure, the "cultural renewal" part of ID has been a success, as supporters of ID seek "restoration" of a theistic sensibility in American culture to replace what they consider an overemphasis on secularism.

You can view Dr. Scott's biography (PDF) or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 12:23 PM

January 09, 2006

Event - Distinguished Speaker: Svante Pääbo

Friday, January 13
“The Quest for the Genes that Make Us Human”

Svante Pääbo, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology
Explore Evolution Distinguished Speaker Series
8 pm, 1800 Chemistry, 930 North University Ave., Ann Arbor
Reception following in Chemistry atrium

One approach to understanding what makes humans unique as a species is to perform structural and functional comparisons between the genomes of humans and our closest evolutionary relatives, the great apes. Recently, the draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome has opened up new possibilities in this area. Pääbo will describe work that compares the DNA sequences and activities of human and chimpanzee genes and discuss evidence that suggests that genes expressed in the brain may have been particularly important during human evolution.

You can view Dr. Pääbo's biography (PDF) or a list of selected scientific articles on the Explore Evolution website.

Posted at 01:56 PM