February 07, 2019

Speakers, research symposium highlight annual Darwin Week at SIU

by Tim Crosby

Who are we and how did we get here? It’s a question humans have asked themselves – and tried to answer – for millennia.

One man who gave a scientific framework for understanding this mystery was Charles Darwin, whose landmark publication, “On the Origin of Species,” has set the tone for evolutionary biology studies ever since.

Darwin comes back to SIU

Next week, Southern Illinois University Carbondale will once again honor Darwin with Darwin Week, featuring speakers and spotlighting microbes and plants.

“We’re doing it a bit differently this year, with two evening talks rather than just the single keynote address,” said Frank E. “Andy” Anderson, associate professor in the zoology degree program and one of the organizers of the events.

Research helped steer a course

Darwin helps scientists address the question of “why,” as related to biology, Anderson said. He also asked and tried to answer questions about an organism’s ability to adapt to changing environments, the proliferation of species and why they live where they live.

Weeklong events open to all

This year’s event kicks off at noon on Monday in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library with a public lecture by Robert Wallace of Iowa State University. Wallace’s lecture is titled “Stuck on a Problem: Understanding Cactus Evolution in the 21st Century.” A reception will follow the lecture. The lecture is focused on research and targeted toward life science students and professionals.

Later that evening, Wallace will give another lecture titled “The Life of Charles Robert Darwin - A Man that Rocked the Scientific World.” It begins at 7 p.m., also in the Guyon Auditorium. A reception will follow.

Film about antibiotic-resistant organisms screening Tuesday

On Tuesday, organizers will screen a film titled “Resistance,” which traces the origin of antibiotic-resistant organisms, a serious concern among public health officials. The event is set for 7 p.m. in the Guyon Auditorium, with a reception to follow.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Guyon Auditorium will be the site for the traditional research symposium. The event features posters and discussions on research conducted by SIU faculty and students. A reception will follow the event.

Microbe lecture Feb. 14

On Feb. 14, Stanley Maloy of San Diego State University will give a lecture titled “The World that Darwin Never Imagined: Microbes and the Evolution of Life on Earth.” The lecture is set for 7 p.m. in the Guyon Auditorium, with a reception and book signing to follow.

Maloy also wraps up Darwin Week on Friday with an 11 a.m. lecture titled “Genetics, Natural Selection, and the Evolution of New Infectious Diseases.” The lecture will be in the auditorium at the Life Science III building. The lecture is focused on research and targeted toward life science students and professionals.

Come out and learn

All events are free and open to the public.

“The first talk – about cacti – and last talk about infectious diseases are research talks that will be more oriented to life scientists and life sciences students, but they are certainly open to the public,” Anderson said.