How’s this for making an impact with your first job after college? Although you graduate with a bachelor of arts degree, a botany professor who doubles as your mentor recommends you for a naturalist’s position aboard a ship about to embark on a five-year survey trip around the world. On the voyage, your study of animals, plants and fossils lead you to formulate a controversial theory that people are still celebrating and validating more than a century later.
That person, of course, was Charles Darwin, and his theory of evolution and how species survive through “natural selection” rocked the scientific and religious worlds.
Each year the School of Sciences and Mathematics celebrates his life and work with a week-long series of lectures. This year’s event culminates on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 – Darwin’s 209th birthday – with a symposium in the SSMB Auditorium from 4-5:30 p.m. followed by a birthday bash.
Biology professor Jason Vance starts the seminar with a talk on the aerodynamic efficiency of the European honey bee, followed by colleague biology professor Bob Podolsky on the evolution of brittlestar larvae in the Great Barrier Reef. Then mathematics professor Garrett Mitchener will conduct an artificial life simulation to demonstrate how abstract genes regulate each other in simple organisms called agents before biology professor Eric McElroy shows how South Carolina’s introduced Texas horn lizards differ from their counterparts in the West. Lastly, biology professor Deb Bidwell will ask what innovative solutions can nature’s genius teach us from 3.8 billion years of adaptation about how to fit in sustainably in a biomimicry talk.
Darwin’s theories will then be put to the test when the cake comes out in the atrium afterward and it’s survival of the fittest.