Rockefeller University hosts 2-day evolution symposium, May 1-2, 2008

April 22, 2008

Beginning with the molecular origins of life and culminating with the latest findings on human evolution, 18 of the world's leading experts will report on research spanning three billion years of evolution at a two-day symposium at Rockefeller University. The symposium takes place on Thursday, May 1, and Friday, May 2 in the university's Caspary Auditorium. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The modern science of evolution owes its beginnings to 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin. In 2009, the world will celebrate both the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's seminal Origin of Species and the bicentennial of his birth. Already, it's widely being heralded as an international "year of Darwin." The Rockefeller symposium, however, has been timed to coincide with an equally scientifically momentous occasion for Darwin's theory: the 150th anniversary of its first presentation to the public.

"Beginning two centuries ago and reaching a crescendo in the second half of the 20th century, scientists in various fields have reached a virtually universal consensus on how and when the universe as we understand it came into being, and how life on earth has evolved from simple to complex over the last three billion years" says symposium organizer James E. Darnell Jr., Vincent Astor Professor Emeritus and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at Rockefeller. "This symposium is an effort to reinforce the importance of Darwin's ideas at a time when the teaching of evolution in public schools faces continuing attacks."

Scientific talks will be held on such topics as the early fossil record, evolution of the cell, the origins of multicellular organisms and the identification of genes that make us human. Among the speakers will be Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University School of Medicine, W. Ford Doolittle of Dalhousie University and Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Jerry A. Coyne, professor of ecology and evolution at The University of Chicago, will give a public lecture titled "Feeding and Gloating for More: The Challenge of the New Creationism." A complete schedule of speakers can be found at http://www.rockefeller.edu/evolution.
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"From RNA to Humans: A Symposium on Evolution" is supported by the Fairfield Osborn Memorial Lecture Fund.

Rockefeller University

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