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Think Evolution: A summer institute for science educators

Sponsored by UCMP, in partnership with the National Center for Science Education,  the California Academy of Sciences, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Think Evolution IX: A summer institute for science educators

Calling all middle school, high school, and community college biology teachers and science educators!

Put on your evolution eyeglasses and your nature of science thinking cap and join us for (yet another) fun-filled five days of evolutionary explorations with biologists and educators at the University of California. The Think Evolution Summer Institute, returning for its ninth year, will combine lectures by prominent evolutionary biologists with sessions focused on hands-on activities for the middle school, high school, and community college classroom.

Monday through Friday, August 6-10, 2018
UC Museum of Paleontology, Room 2063, UC Berkeley
9:00 am to 3:00 pm

$75.00 for five days; includes lots of free resources distributed to participating teachers plus morning and afternoon snacks. Lunch is not provided.

Registration is open! Please follow this link to the registration page.

Institute Schedule

Monday, August 6
8:00-8:30 am Registration
8:30-9:00 Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Introductions and logistics
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Brent Mishler, Professor of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley

Biodiversity without species

Though a definition of species appears in every biology textbook, it is actually one of the most controversial issues in evolutionary biology, ecology, systematics, and biodiversity assessment. Current entities ranked at the taxonomic level of "species" are not comparable in age, internal genetic diversity, ecology, morphological variation, degree of similarity, or the amount of interbreeding within or among them. At a time of rapid habitat destruction and climate change, the need for sound biodiversity inventories is critical. New quantitative, spatial phylogenetic measures for biodiversity and endemism, which take into account the number of branch points (and branch lengths) that separate lineages, can better guide conservation priorities than can lists of species names.

10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Jun Ying Lim, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley

Geologic dynamism of islands drives the tempo of diversification on the Hawaiian archipelago

The geologic and climatic dynamism of the landscape can drive the pace of speciation and extinction of the organisms that occupy it. However, regional abiotic histories are often complex, making the study of how they have shaped the species diversity of mainland biotas challenging! In his talk, Jun Ying will show how oceanic islands offer "natural experiments" for unraveling the nature of diversity dynamics, and how landscape dynamism over geologic time scales can drive the evolutionary dynamics of clades, including long-term and ongoing evolutionary decline.

12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (Please bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Resource sharing
Tuesday, August 7
8:30-9:00 Coffee and munchies
9:00 -9:30 Morning check-in and logistics for the day
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Christine Parent, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Idaho

Islands as Living Laboratories: Adaptation and Speciation in Galapagos' Land Snails

Islands are ideal systems to track the evolutionary processes involved in biological diversification. In Galapagos endemic land snails these processes have left a clear signature over time that can be detected in the form of predictable patterns of repeated changes in species traits and community assemblages. The presentation will focus on the latest research results on the diversification of Galapagos land snails, the largest adaptive radiation on these islands. Recent work has led to the re-discovery of several Galapagos endemic snail species thought to be extinct and the description of new species to science. More importantly, this work is highlighting a remarkable but little-known system for the study of evolution in action

10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Anna Holden, Research Associate, Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, LA County Natural History Museum

Breathing new life into Quaternary insect collections: methodological advances, phylogeography, and microniche evolution

Since Charles Darwin's groundbreaking Origin of Species, understanding speciation stands at the core of evolutionary biology and systematics. Entomological collections from the Quaternary provide direct evidence of insect microevolution and Quaternary entomology emerged as one of the most important disciplines starting in the 19th century and flourishing through the 20th century. Ironically, it has been on a steep decline over the past two decades, just as microevolutionary research has gained momentum due to advances in genomics. Fortunately, methodological advances such as a higher-resolution climate extraction techniques and more precise radiocarbon and stable isotopic protocols bring new life to Quaternary entomology. During this talk, examples from studies in the La Brea Tar Pits drawing on phylogeography, endemism, community ecology, and landscape genetics help document the insect response to Quaternary climate change.

12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Resouce sharing

Wednesday, August 8
8:30-9:00 Coffee and munchies
9:00 -9:30 Morning warm-up and logistics for the day
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Jim McGuire, Professor of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley

Flying lizard diversification on Sulawesi, Indonesia's "ultimate island"

In keeping with this year's theme of speciation and biodiversity across islands and geographically diverse regions, Jim will discuss his work using phylogenomic and population genomic methods to understand the diversification of flying lizards on the megadiverse island of Sulawesi. This research showcases many of the challenges of this kind of research, including remote tropical fieldwork and the difficulties in (1) understanding the role of this island's highly complex tectonic history, (2) elucidating cryptic speciation, and (3) disentangling complex demographic processes that can obscure the diversification story.

10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Julia Sankey, Professor of Paleobiology and Geology, California State University Stanislaus

Extinct spiked-tooth salmon from the Central Valley of California: Morphology and paleobiology

Oncorhynchus rastrosus was a very large, spike-toothed, Pacific Salmon from the mid-Miocene to early Pliocene of the Pacific Northwest (California to Washington). It had two large premaxillary (breeding-fighting) teeth that stuck out laterally from the snout like spikes. It migrated from the Pacific Ocean to inland rivers to spawn, as extant Pacific salmon do today. It was planktivorous, based on numerous, long, over-lapping gill-rakers, and few, small teeth. Gaps in knowledge about this fascinating salmon stemmed from the rarity of specimens, lack of detailed descriptions and of the fossils and their geological context. New research comparing premaxillary teeth from freshwater and coastal marine deposits in California explores whether O. rastrosus developmentally changed before migration upriver to spawn, as extant Pacific salmon do today.

12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Resource sharing
Thursday, August 9
8:30-9:00 am Coffee and munchies
9:00 -9:30 Morning warm-up and logistics for the day
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Betsabé Castro, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley

Surviving the perfect storm: evolution, adaptation, and responses of tropical island biodiversity to hurricanes

Hurricanes can be devastating forces of nature. During September 2017, the Caribbean islands witness unprecedented damages due to the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Although it has been a slow recovery for Caribbean nations and the impacts are still being assessed, there are important lessons revealed. Islands continue to be outstanding natural laboratories for evolution. Hurricanes can change whole ecosystems, thus having direct and indirect effects on all levels of biological diversity. During this talk, we will explore how island biodiversity evolves, adapts, and responds to tropical cyclones.

10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 Stephanie Keep, Special Projects Director, National Center of Science Education

Why Is This So Hard?! Our Ongoing Problems with Evolution

12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (Please bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Resource sharing
Friday, August 10
8:30-9:00 am Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Morning check-in and logistics for the day
9:30-10:45 Introduction of Understanding Global Change: A New UCMP web resource
10:45-11:00 Break

Resources to explore the impact of global change on biodiversity

12:15-1:00 Lunch (on your own)
1:00-3:00 Resources to explore the impact of global change on biodiversity

About the Speakers

Brent D. Mishler is Director of the University and Jepson Herbaria and Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1984 and has been a member of the UC Berkeley faculty since 1993. His research interests are in the systematics, evolution, and ecology of bryophytes, especially the diverse moss genus Tortula, as well as in the phylogeny of green plants and the theory of systematics.

Jun Ying Lim is a graduate student in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the intersection between macroevolutionary dynamics, niche evolution, ecological networks and community ecology. His current work focuses on islands as natural experiments to study how large scale geologic and climatic dynamism can shaped the spatial and temporal variation in species diversity.

Christine Parent is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Idaho. She started conducting research on Galapagos land snails in 2000 as part of her PhD degree, which she completed at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Canada. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and subsequently at the University of California Berkeley.

Anna Holden received her PhD from the American Museum of Natural History and is a Research Associate at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in southern California. She develops and applies novel methods to study Quaternary insect fauna at global study sites.

Jim McGuire is a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Curator of Herpetology in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. He is an evolutionary biologist who studies diversification of amphibians and reptiles (primarily in Indonesia), as well as the evolution of high altitude adaptation in hummingbirds. He received his B.S. degree in Business Administration and M.S. in Biology from San Diego State University, and his PhD in Zoology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Julia Sankey is a Professor of Paleobiology and Geology at California State University, Stanislaus. She earned a B.S. in Biology from the College of Idaho, a M.S. in Quaternary Studies from Northern Arizona University, and a Ph.D. in Geology from Louisiana State University where she was also collections manager of vertebrate paleontology in the Museum of Natural Science. Her current research is on 5 million year old giant salmon, tortoises, and other fossils and sedimentological features from the Mehrten Formation exposed in and around Turlock Lake, CA.

Betsabé D. Castro Escobar is a PhD candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is an interdisciplinary scientist trained in both natural and social sciences. She studies plant-human interactions through the lens of the ethnobotany, ecology, and evolution. She is working with a group of plants called the calabash trees in the Tropical Americas tracing their biogeography, domestication, evolution history, ecology, and versatility of uses. She is the founder of the group Boricuas in Berkeley, a Puerto Rican student organization in campus which has organized hurricane relief efforts for Puerto Rico.

Stephanie Keep is the director of special projects at the National Center of Science Education (NCSE) and editor of Reports of the National Center for Science Education. She also works as a science education consultant for nonprofit groups such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)'s BioInteractive, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and WGBH/NOVA. At NCSE, Stephanie regularly blogs about misconceptions and other issues around science communication and education.

For more information, contact Lisa White.

University of California Museum of Paleontology National Center for Science Education California Academy of Sciences Howard Hughes Medical Institute