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Speaker Series by Semester Darwin Day 2020

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Roots of Consciousness: Darwin's Botany and the Promise of PlantsRoots of Consciousness: Darwin's Botany and the Promise of Plantsgianquitto-roots-of-consciousness<img alt="" src="/darwin-day-sub-site/PublishingImages/Darwin%20Day%202020/Tina%20Gianquitto1.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>4:30PM in the 1941 Lecture Room in the Morris Library</p><p><strong>Professor Tina Gianquitto</strong></p><p>Professor Gianquitto is the author of <em>Good Observers of Nature”: American Women and the Scientific Study of the Natural World, 1820-1885</em>, co-developer of the website Herbaria 3.0 [<<a href=""></a>>], and the co-editor of <em>America’s Darwin: </em><em>"Roots of Consciousness: Darwin's Botany and the Promise of Plants. </em> She is an associate professor of literature at the Colorado School of Mines, where she teaches courses in literature and the environment, American literature, literature and the history of nineteenth-century science, especially the emergence of evolutionary thought and Darwinism. </p><p>She is currently writing a book that examines the influence Darwin’s plant studies had on galvanizing responses to evolutionary theory in the U.S. in the late 19th century.  She has written on women, nature and science, as well as on Darwinian botany, and, in a different vein, Jack London.</p>2020-02-11T05:00:00Z<p><strong>Abstract:</strong></p><p>Shortly before his death in 1882, Charles Darwin completed his last book summarizing his work on a decades-long fascination with the movement of climbing plants. Plant life, as shown in Darwin's books on the subject, is both active and intentional. Fascinated readers learned that climbing plants possessed volition and pursued objectives: they move “when it is of some advantage to them,” and “in manifest relation to their wants.” More dramatically, perhaps, Darwin argued that plants gather information about the world around them through tendrils and other structures that act “like the brain of lower animals” The notion of volitional plants deconstructed any seemingly stable boundary between human and non-human, fauna and flora, and popular commentators looking both at the Darwinian plant world and at emerging theories of the mind and consciousness were driven to ask: “Are plants able to think?” And if they can, what does that mean?<br></p>
Darwinian Heaven: HawaiiDarwinian Heaven: Hawaiibartley-hawaii<img alt="" src="/darwin-day-sub-site/PublishingImages/Darwin%20Day%202020/Jack%20Bartley.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>2:30PM - 3:00PM ISE Lab Room 215</p><p> <strong>Emeritus Professor of Biology Jack Bartley</strong></p><p>​Professor Bartley is the former director of the Associate of Arts Program of the University of Delaware. Each January, he takes a group of UD students to Hawaii for an evolutionary ecology course in the domestic study program. He is a musician and President of the Newark Symphony. As a professor in the Associate in Arts Program it was his responsibility to prepare students for the transition to the Newark Campus. He taught introductory biology, human physiology, and a Pathways course entitled: Environments and Cultures in Conflict. He conducted both the lecture and laboratory sections which enabled him to fully understand the needs of students and provide them with personalized assistance. In addition to teaching, he served in an advisory capacity for approximately thirty students each semester, helping them choose courses and make plans for attaining their baccalaureate degree. His research was on predator/prey relationships and how they affect community structure of the mantis (<em>Tenodera sinensis</em>).  Recently, his projects focus on wetlands communities and the creation of self-sustaining models for study. Mesocosms can provide insight into the workings of large ecosystems or habitats. With the assistance of Dr. Walter Adey of the Smithsonian Institute, Jack created an East Coast estuary system, the MidAtlantic Mesocosm, at Glasgow High School. He served as the director of the mesocosm and provided technical assistance for students engaged in independent study projects.</p>2020-02-12T05:00:00Z<p><strong>​Abstract:</strong></p><p>The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated group of islands in the world. The diversity of habitats throughout the islands, in combination with the reduction of gene flow from source populations, has created a unique collection of organisms with a higher percentage of endemic species than any other area on Earth. We'll take a look at just a few examples that Darwin never got to experience. While the Galapagos Islands will remain iconic in the establishment of evolutionary theory, they cannot come close to Hawaii. Darwin would have been overwhelmed!</p>
Does evolution conflict with religion?Does evolution conflict with religion?schueler-conflict<img alt="" src="/darwin-day-sub-site/PublishingImages/Darwin%20Day%202020/Fred%20Schueler.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>3:00PM - 3:30PM ISE Lab Room 215</p><p><strong>Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Fred Schueler</strong></p><p>Professor Schueler's most recent article is entitled: "Why and How? Teleological and Causal Concepts in Action Explanation" appeared in 2019 in <em>Explanation in Action Theory and Historiography</em>. His books include: <em>Desire: Its Role in Practical Reason and the Explanation of Action</em>, <em>The Idea of a Reason for Acting</em>, and <em>Reasons and Purposes: Human Rationality and the Teleological Explanation of Action. </em>In his work, he argues that both teleological and causal concepts are required for explanations of intentional actions.   </p>2020-02-12T05:00:00Z<p><strong>​Abstract:</strong></p><p>If, as some religions claim, the God who created everything is all-powerful and all-knowing, then He can do anything He wants.  So there could not possibly be anything to prevent Him from using evolution to create the plants, animals and humans, that we find populating the world.  So why would anyone who believed in such a God be opposed to evolution? I think that the answer lies not in a religious view of how God created things but in a popular reason for thinking that there IS a God, the 'Argument from Design'.  This argument depends on thinking that many things we find in nature have purposes. The purpose of eyes, for instance, is to see things.  The purpose of hands is to grasp things.  In this talk I'll examine what it is for something to have a purpose and argue that in view of what purposes are, the discovery of evolution simply refutes the Argument from Design.</p>
Evolution of Eukaryotic CellsEvolution of Eukaryotic Cellslaverty-evolution<img alt="" src="/darwin-day-sub-site/PublishingImages/Darwin%20Day%202020/Gary%20Laverty.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>3:30PM - 4:00PM ISE Lab Room 215​</p><p><strong>Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Gary Laverty</strong></p><p>Professor Laverty investigates the comparative physiology of a diverse set of organisms. Two of Professor Laverty's more recent articles on evolution are "Got blood? The evolution of human-biting preference in mosquitoes" and "Hypersaline environments" in <em>Extremophile Fishes. Ecology, Evolution and Physiology of Teleosts in Extreme Environments</em>.  His lab focuses on a small single celled eukaryote <em>Tetrahymena</em> that is covered with about 500 cilia that are required for cell motility, phagocytosis, and mating. The study of <em>T</em><em>etrahymena's</em> has led to important discoveries and insights into both conserved and divergent biological processes. Amazingly this single cell organism uses the same neurotransmitter as vertebrates and thus is a good biomedical model organism and has been fundamental to a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine on catalytic RNA. Laverty's prior work focused on the kidney physiology of birds and fishes. He has done extensive field work in Iceland for many years. Each year he takes a group of undergraduate summer research students to present at the national meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology where they continue to receive national awards.</p>2020-02-12T05:00:00Z<p><strong>Abstract:</strong></p><p>​The quest to understand the origins of the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA) and the process by which eukaryotic cell traits developed (eukaryogenesis) can be traced back to the late nineteenth century. However, a paper published in 1967 by Lynn Margulis (then Lynn Sagan) incorporated and expanded on the concept of endosymbiosis, whereby ancestral prokaryotic cells incorporated within themselves other prokaryotic organisms, eventually establishing permanent endosymbionts, including mitochondria and chloroplasts. Although not universally embraced, the concept of endosymbiosis as a basis for eukaryogenesis has provided a foundation for many of the newer, more elaborate models based on phylogenetics and genomic analyses, particularly in organisms belonging to the Archaea domain. The last decade, in particular, has seen a marked increase in published models and ideas related to the origins of mitochondria, the nucleus, and various internal membrane compartments (eg, endoplasmic reticulum). Some of these models will be reviewed as will the very recent descriptions of a putative ancestral host cell within the "Asgard" superphylum of archaea.</p>
Why do plants produce so many flowers and so few fruits?Why do plants produce so many flowers and so few fruits?stephenson-plants<img alt="" src="/darwin-day-sub-site/PublishingImages/Darwin%20Day%202020/Andrew%20Stephenson.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​4:00PM ISE Lab Room 215</p><p><strong>Distinguished Professor of Biology Andrew George Stephenson, The Pennsylvania State University</strong></p><p>Stephenson is recognized for his groundbreaking discoveries in the evolutionary biology of plants. His contributions to the understanding of Darwin's theories of sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems are recognized internationally and his work also affects broad areas of plant biology, including plant physiology and breeding. He has demonstrated that, regardless of the haphazard nature of pollen deposition, plants can exercise a great deal of control over which of the deposited pollen grains actually fertilize the ovules, which of the immature seeds mature, and which abort during development.</p><p>Stephenson, who is a researcher in Penn State's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, the Center for Chemical Ecology, and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, also was the assistant head for research in the Department of Biology. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In 2003, he was named Most Highly Cited Researcher in the fields of ecology and environmental science in Current Contents -- a service database from the Institute for Scientific Information. His other honors include a Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in 2002, a Faculty Associates Award for Outstanding Involvement in Undergraduate Research in 1997, an Edward D. Bellis Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education in 1996, a George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992 and again in 2011, and an International Agricultural Centre (IAC) Fellowship from the IAC in the Netherlands in 1987.</p>2020-02-12T05:00:00Z<p><strong>Abstract:</strong></p><p>Ever wonder why apples and horse chestnuts produce so many flowers and so few fruits? Darwin did and he saw the 'wasteful and inefficient' reproduction of species like apples and horse chestnuts as a challenge to his theory of evolution. The reasons "why plants produce so many flowers and so few fruits" would both surprise and please Mr. Darwin. Stephenson relates this work to three of Darwin's books: <em>Different forms of Flowers of the Same Species</em>; <em>Effects of Self and Cross Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom</em>; and the <em>On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised by Insects, and On the Good Effects of Intercrossing</em>.</p>

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