Good evolution talks at Appalachian State University

In Boone, NC:

Michael Ruse will present "Darwin at Two Hundred Years Old: Does He Still Speak to Us?" Monday, Feb. 2, 2009, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University and the foremost philosophical scholar on the relationship between evolution and science. He is the author of "Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?"

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009, Jim Costa, director of the Highlands Biological Station at Western Carolina University, will discuss "Charles Darwin and the Origin of the Origin." The talk is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center's Powers Grand Hall. Costa is a noted Darwin scholar and evolutionary ecologist, as well as author of the soon-to-be-released "Darwin Line by Line: The Living Origin," an annotated version of "On the Origin of Species." He will discuss how Darwin came to write the work.

Sean Carroll presents "Into the Jungle: The Epic Search for the Origins of Species and the Discoveries that Forged a Revolution" Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Carroll is a professor of molecular biology, genetics and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Researcher. He is the author of several popular books on evolution, including the upcoming "Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Specie." Carroll will be host of a PBS "NOVA" special about Darwin and evolution, which will be shown nationally next spring. His talk is co-sponsored by the Darwin Bicentennial Celebration Committee and by the university's Morgan Distinguished Lecture Series in the Sciences.

Paul Ewald from the University of Louisville's Department of Biology will present a lecture Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 8 p.m. in the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center's Powers Grand Hall. His presentation is titled "Darwinian Insights into the Causes and Prevention of Cancer." Ewald is noted for his theories regarding the co-evolution of humans and disease organisms. He argues in his book "Plague Time" that many diseases attributed to environmental stresses may actually be caused by bacteria or viruses instead.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jonathan Weiner will speak on "The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time" Thursday, March 26, 2009, at 8 p.m., in Plemmons Student Union's Blue Ridge Ballroom. Weiner is a professor in Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. His Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Beak of the Finch" profiled the research of the husband/wife team Peter and Rosemary Grant as they carried out extensive studies of evolution on Darwin's finches in the Galapagos Islands.

Elisabeth Lloyd from Indiana University's Department of History and Philosophy of Science will present the lecture "Darwinian Evolution and the Female Orgasm: Explanations and Puzzles" Thursday, April 2, 2009, at 8 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union's Blue Ridge Ballroom. Lloyd is a leading historian and philosopher of science and author of several books on these subjects.

Niles Eldredge, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, will speak on "Darwin, the Beagle and the Origin of Modern Evolutionary Biology" Monday, April 6, 2009, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium. Eldredge, along with his colleague the late Stephen J. Gould, co-authored the seminal paper on punctuated equilibrium which emphasized that evolutionary change was not constant through time. He is also author of more than a dozen scientific books for the public, including "Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life," a new analysis of how Darwin came to write "On the Origin of Species," based largely on Darwin's original notes and writings.

In addition to the lectures, a series of affiliated events has been planned, including an Evolution Film Festival which will feature a variety of movies based on or about the subject of evolution; a play by the L.A. Theater Works based on the Scopes Trial (Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009); a performance by the Department of Theatre and Dance of the courtroom scene from "Inherit the Wind" (Feb. 12-14 and 19-21); art and music events; plus special outreach activities for students and teachers.

I wish Boone was closer to me....

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A few years ago (back when I was a fanatical cycling nut--I might, nay I will, become one again some day) some friends and I did a week long, 400 mile bicycling tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a fantastic experience! We went through Boone, rode all around the ASU campus, then had drinks and dinner at a local pub, before heading off to our illegal campsite for the night. I'll never forget what a beautiful campus it was.

I also wish it was closer to me (I'm all the way up in Philadelphia). I wish I could go to all the Year of Darwin events. (What a fantastic lineup there in Boone!)

Those of you who will be Germany between March 18-20 shouldn't miss the

Cologne Spring Meeting 2009: The Variable Genome

The topic of the 2009 meeting will be "The Variable Genome". The aim is to bring together scientists who investigate genetic and genomic variability, their molecular evolutionary basis, population genetics and the phenotypic consequences of genome variations.

The meeting is open and no registration or attendance fee is required!


The Impact of New Technologies in Genomics
Molecular Evolution and Population Genetics
The New RNA World
Phenotypic Consequences of Genomic Variations
Evolution of Susceptibility to Disease
Public Understanding of Evolution

Speakers will include:

Stephan Beck, Sebastian Bonhoeffer, Sydney Brenner, Brian Chadwick, Antony Dean,
Manolis Dermitzakis, Anna Di Rienzo, Richard Durbin, Xavier Estivill, Adam Eyre-Walker, Timothy Frayling, Kelly Frazer, Laurence Hurst, Steve Jones, Andrew Leigh Brown, John Mattick, Rasmus Nielsen, Howard Ochman, Svante Pääbo, William Provine, Nikolaus Rajewsky, Stephan C. Schuster, Kári Stefánsson, Shamil Sunyaev, Amalio Telenti, Harmen van de Werken, Joris Veltman