Conference to showcase latest research in field of evolutionary biologyBy Catherine Gianaro
Medical Center Public Affairs
The University will sponsor the fourth biennial conference on evolutionary developmental biology bringing together some of the biggest names in the field. The four-day symposium, “Developmental Basis of Evolutionary Change,” will be held at various locations on campus, beginning Thursday, Oct. 20 and culminating on Sunday, Oct. 23.
In the midst of today’s ardent, popular debate surrounding evolution and intelligent design, this conference assembles world-renowned scientists of diverse intellectual interests, including basic and medical scientists, as well as scholars who examine the history of science and the philosophy of its practice.
“Considering recent assaults on the teaching of evolutionary science to the next generation of thinkers, there is no better time to showcase leading-edge research in evolutionary biology and to reiterate that the study of biology and organismal development is inherently the study of evolution and its consequences,” said evolutionary geneticist Todd Martin, co-organizer of the conference along with developmental biologist Alex Wolf, both Chicago graduate students.
The conference will open with keynote addresses by Peter Holland of the University of Oxford, and Naomi Pierce of Harvard University, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 1156 E. 59th St. The keynote lectures are free and open to the public.
Holland is the Linacre professor of zoology and the associate head of Oxford’s department of zoology. He also is a fellow of Merton College and the head of its development research group. His research interests include evolutionary developmental biology, genome evolution, homeobox genes and molecular phylogeny. His talk is titled “Exploiting Genomics in Evolutionary Developmental Biology.”
Pierce is Harvard’s Hessel professor of biology and curator of Lepidoptera at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. She studies behavioral ecology and the evolution of species interactions by way of model genetic systems, as well as model ecological systems. Pierce will speak on the topic, “Evolution of Blue Butterflies: Pattern and Process.”
This year’s conference also will include shorter, submitted talks from faculty, post-docs, and students on a variety of topics within developmental and evolutionary biology, such as pattern formation and morphological novelty.
The conference is designed as a special opportunity for more junior members of the scientific community to interact with more established members in an intimate environment and to encourage scientific exchange.
For more information about the conference, including how to register and submit abstracts, access the conference Web site at http://dbec.uchicago.edu.
During the conference, there are four themed plenary sessions featuring nearly 30 speakers. Those themes and speakers are:
Sensation and Sensory Networks
History and Philosophy of Evolution and Developmental Thought
Ecology, Development and Evolution
Genetic Regulation, Evolution and Development