Darwin Symposium at Field Museum offers broad overview of his science and its impact

October 16, 2007

CHICAGO--World-class experts from the United States and Great Britain will speak at The Field Museum for a one-of-a-kind symposium on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, which continues to excite the world and direct scientific research 125 years after Darwin's death.

The free one-day symposium will be held Saturday, November 3, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at The Field Museum's James Simpson Theater. It will cover Darwin and his theory broadly and comprehensively and reveal new directions in cutting-edge research. At the same time, subject matter will be presented in clear terms that museum goers will be able to understand.

"We will be celebrating one of the great scientific revolutions of all time-as well as the person behind it," said Neil Shubin, Field Museum Provost and Associate Dean for Organismal and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. "Darwin changed the way we think about our world and our place in it. This symposium is an opportunity to showcase some of the cutting-edge research that is currently underway in the variety of fields that Darwin impacted."

Shubin will speak at the symposium about the origin of tetrapod limbs. A tetrapod is any vertebrate with four limbs (or four-limbed ancestors). It is a group of animals that includes the human being. Shubin made headlines around the world last year with the discovery of Tiktalik, a fishlike creature with limbs that allowed it to walk on land.

At this time with the theory of evolution under attack in some quarters, the public should strive to better understand Darwin and how his theory of evolution continues to provide a contextual framework for explaining all of life on earth, scientists say. "It is truly amazing that Darwin's theory continues to hold up under the light of modern genetics and molecular biology," said Olivier Rieppel, chair of The Field Museum's Geology Department and Curator of Fossil Amphibians and Reptiles.

Darwin had no knowledge of genes whatsoever, yet some of the best evidence for his theories have come from genetics--a field that did not even exist at his time. Many of the talks will show how various diverse scientific disciplines, from molecular biology to medicine and genetics to paleontology not only support Darwin's theories but also allow us to understand some of the key events in evolution.

"Darwin is an example of what the best science can do," Shubin concluded. "A single idea can change the world and offer us new ways to see ourselves. In fact, as we learn more about our genome and those of other creatures, Darwin's theories become ever more relevant."

The symposium coincides with the popular Darwin exhibition at The Field Museum that covers his life and his science. For information about this exhibition, which runs until January 1, 2008, see http://www.fieldmuseum.org/darwin/.


DARWIN AT THE FIELD MUSEUM: NOVEMBER 3, 2007

The Field Museum will host a one-day symposium on Darwin and his theory of evolution. World-class experts from the United States and Great Britain will explore Darwin's place in the history of biology; the philosophical dimensions of Darwin's theory of evolution; evolutionary innovation in the plant and animal kingdoms; microevolutionary processes in lizards and birds (Darwin's finches); problems of co-evolution; tracking the evolution of the HIV virus; and the origin of man.

When: Saturday, November 3, 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM.

Where: James Simpson Theatre, West Entrance, The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.
ADMISSION IS FREE - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. For more information (312) 665-7621

9:00 - 9:10 AM Welcoming Remarks

9:10 - 9:40 AM ROBERT J. RICHARDS, University of Chicago: Darwin's Place in the History of Biology

9:40 - 10:10 AM RASMUS WINTHER, University of California-Santa Cruz: Three Philosophical Dimensions of Darwinism

10:40 - 11:10 AM ANDREW SMITH, The Natural History Museum, London: Fossils and Phylogeny

11:10 - 11:40 AM PETER CRANE, University of Chicago: The Evolution of Carnivores from Plants

11:40 - 12:10 AM NEIL SHUBIN, The Field Museum: The Origin of Tetrapod Limbs

12:10 - 2:00 PM Lunch Break

2:00 - 2:30 PM JONATHAN LOSOS, Harvard University (MCZ): Evolution in Action: Caribbean Island Lizards

2:30 - 3:00 PM TREVOR PRICE, University of Chicago: Evolution in Action: Darwin's Finches

3:00 - 3:30 PM DANIEL BROOKS, University of Toronto: Darwin and Co-Evolution: Emphasizing the Nature of the Organism in Studies of Multi-Species Associations

4:00 - 4:30 PM DAVID HILLIS, University of Texas, Austin: The HIV Epidemic: Tracking an Evolutionary Process

4: 30 - 5:00 PM ROBERT MARTIN, The Field Museum: The Origin of Man
-end-


Field Museum

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