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A record crowd at the 2007 UCMP Short Course

Implications of Evolution: Evidence & Applications

Held on February 10th, this year's short course was entitled The Implications of Evolution: Evidence & Applications and was one of several BNHM activities to celebrate Darwin Day at Cal. More than 300 people filled 2050 VLSB to listen to a remarkable set of speakers. John Thompson, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz, discussed how recent research is providing new perspectives on coevolution as one of the central processes organizing life on Earth. UCMP director, Roy Caldwell, engaged the audience next with outstanding photographs and videos, sharing his new research on the strike functions of mantis shrimp and their amazing visual and communications systems. UCMP faculty curator, Leslea Hlusko discussed her current research on a colony of baboons residing at a hi-tech biomedical research facility in San Antonio, Texas. Her research combines paleontology and genetics, enabling scientists to gain insights into how animals have evolved over time. Integrative Biology professor Robert Dudley talked about his research on aerial behaviors in ant workers of the tropical rain forest canopy — research that may have important implications for our understanding of the evolution of animal flight. Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education and a UCMP visiting scholar, closed the course with a discussion on current antievolution strategies, the intelligent design movement, and recent legal decisions concerning the teaching of evolution.

Stomatopod eyes
Roy Caldwell discussed the unusual eyes of stomatopods (mantis shrimp).

Teachers attending the short course had an added bonus thanks to the generous donation of teaching resources by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The UCMP short course was cosponsored by the California Academy of Sciences, the California Science Teachers Association, the Oakland Museum of California, and the National Center for Science Education.

And save the date for next year: February 9, 2008. The topic of the 2008 short course will continue along an evolutionary theme, focusing on the impact of global warming on biodiversity, past and present.

Stomatopod eyes photo by Roy Caldwell.