Provost's Lecture Series
|Darwin Day 2016|
|February 12: David Jablonski|
Mass Extinctions and Evolution: What We’ve Learned Since Darwin
Co-sponsor: Department of Ecology and Evolution
Abstract: The fossil record is punctuated by extinction events at all scales, from the loss of one or two fish species with the drying of a lake, to the wholesale disappearance of dinosaurs (birds aside) 65 million years ago. The handful of events that are global in scale and bring down a wide spectrum of species are termed mass extinctions, which account for less than 10% of all the extinction over life’s long history, but have been pivotal in shaping the world’s biota. Because most research has centered on the causes of mass extinctions, we are just beginning to understand their evolutionary roles. Growing evidence points to a change in the rules of survival during mass extinctions, so that evolution is re-channeled during these rare but intense episodes. The evolutionary bursts that follow the extinctions may be just as important as the extinctions themselves, as new or previously obscure lineages take advantage of the opportunities opened up by the demise of dominant groups. However, a closer look at recovery intervals shows that survival alone does not guarantee evolutionary success: not all survivors are winners. The implications of this new understanding of extinction for present-day biodiversity are complex but wide-ranging.
Friday, February 12, 7:30 pm, Earth and Space Sciences 001
|October 8, 2015: Josh Levs|
The Myth of the Modern Dad: What the New York Times, Pew Research, and Everyone Else
Abstract: False claims about modern dads are everywhere. They're in headlines of alleged "surveys," shared in popular blogs, even published by the most prestigious news organizations. In this talk, Josh Levs shows the disastrous effects these lies have on families and businesses. They propagate the laws, policies and stigmas that maintain a sexist infrastructure and keep the American workplace stuck in the "Mad Men" era. Women and men are hurt equally by these myths, he says, and it's up to the current generation of parents to end them once and for all, he argues. Levs offers simple steps and pragmatic solutions to bring the United States into the 21st century, allowing men and women the chance to build real work-life balance.
Thursday, October 8, 4:00–6:00 pm, Simons Center Auditorium, Room 103
|October 16, 2015: Carl F. Hobert|
Raising Global IQ
Co-sponsor: Linguistics Department
Abstract: This generation of college students is increasingly interested in learning about international crises, from the war in Syria to global warming and beyond. But in order to teach students how to devise solutions to these often-complex problems, Hobert argues that they need both in-class and in-the-field experience. Hobert explores how he does this effectively in his "Educating Global Citizens" course. In this seminar, Hobert uses what he calls the "Intellectual Outward Bound case study approach" to conflict resolution, in order to teach students how to play roles on many different sides in a host of conflicts in order to raise their Global IQ, and to hone their personal conflict analysis, management and prevention skills.
Friday, October 16, 12:00 pm, Wang Center, Lecture Hall 2
|Presentation of the Rohlf Medal|
|October 26, 2015: Benedikt Hallgrímsson|
Morphometrics and the Middle-Out Approach to Complex Traits
Abstract: How development translates genetic into phenotypic variation is one of the hardest questions in biology. This issue is central to understanding how selection acting on phenotypic variation produces evolutionary change. It is also a key challenge that must be overcome to enable precision medicine for structural birth defects. My collaborators and I blend morphometrics and advanced imaging with developmental biology and genetics to create and analyze large sets of 3D image data from animal models and humans to study how genes relate to variation in facial shape. This allows us to identify patterns of variation that correspond to particular developmental mechanisms or genetic pathways. We then manipulate those mechanisms experimentally in animal models in order to determine how they generate variation in the facial form including birth defects. Finally, we apply our understanding of facial genetics and development to determine how disruption of growth, either by nutrition or syndromes influences facial shape. This approach is innovative because, rather than focusing on individual genes, we focus on pathways or processes that correspond to the effects of many genes on the development of the face. In this way, we break down the complexity of the genetics of complex traits such as facial shape. This results in explanations of variation that have significant implications for how organismal form evolves. Our hope is that such "middle-out" explanations will eventually also help inform individualized treatment for patients.
Monday, October 26, 4:00 pm, Wang Center, Lecture Hall 2
|November 17, 2015: Paul M. Arfin, MSW|
Social Action in Suburbia: Post World War II Long Island as a Case Study
Abstract: As Long Island emerged as a major suburb after World War II, there were few social welfare services available to its residents. What policies and programs were needed? Who were the social change advocates for these services and programs? What challenges did they face and what changes resulted from their actions? And, what is the current state of social welfare programs on Long Island? These are the issues that Paul Arfin will address.
Tuesday, November 17, 4:30 pm, Wang Center, Lecture Hall 2