University of Minnesota to host world's largest conference on evolution

May 14, 2008

More than 1,400 of the world's top experts on evolution will gather in Minnesota June 20 through 24 for "Evolution 2008," the world's largest annual gathering of evolutionary biologists. The conference, the premier international event for scientists to share research related to evolution, is sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History, the university's College of Biological Sciences and Minnesota Citizens for Science Education.

Headlining the event is Olivia Judson, evolutionary biologist, New York Times columnist and author of the 2005 best-selling book, "Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation," which caused a pop sensation and spawned a hit TV-series in Britain. Judson's guide to the evolutionary biology of sex in the animal kingdom takes a lighthearted look at some usual and not-so-usual animal habits such as necrophilia, virgin birthing and peculiar dining rituals during mating. Judson will give a public talk on "The Art of Seduction: Evolution, Sex and the Public" at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22 at the university's Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2106 Fourth St. S., Minneapolis.

The conference will also feature five days of academic presentations, poster sessions, a workshop for K-12 teachers and panel discussions on topics related to evolution and communicating science to the general public. Conference participants include members of the Society for the Study of Evolution, Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists.

"This is a very exciting time for the science of evolution, thanks to new discoveries that range from uncovering the deep history of life on our planet to understanding the biological processes that shape our world today," said conference organizer, Bell Museum Curator and associate professor of plant biology George Weiblen. "At the same time, our science is misunderstood, especially as it relates to religion. 'Evolution 2008' is about communicating science at many levels that we hope stirs the interest of students, educators and the general public in evidence over ideology."
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Judson's talk is free and open to the public; doors open at 3 p.m. for early seating. For more information and a complete list of conference activities, visit www.bellmuseum.org.

The Bell Museum, Minnesota's natural history museum, is part of the university's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and is located at 10 Church St. S.E. in Minneapolis on the university's Minneapolis campus. For more event information, see http://www.cce.umn.edu/conferences/evolution/

University of Minnesota

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