URI Honors Colloquium lecture, Oct. 14

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Stanford marine ecologist to examine how humans affect evolution

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 7, 2008 – Stanford University professor Stephen Palumbi, author of The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change, is the next speaker in the University of Rhode Island’s annual fall Honors Colloquium.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on URI’s Kingston Campus.

The 2008 Honors Colloquium, “People and Planet: Global Environmental Change,” explores human-caused global change, its consequences and potential responses through a series of lectures, films, exhibits and a cabaret. Weekly events run through Dec. 9.

In his lecture, entitled “Impact of Global Environmental Change on Evolution,” Palumbi will discuss how rapid evolution is central to the emerging problems being faced by modern society.

In his book, The Evolution Explosion, Palumbi notes that genetic tinkering by humans is “accelerating the evolutionary game, especially among the species that live with us most intimately,” like the food we eat, the pests that share that food, and the diseases they transmit. The New York Times wrote that Palumbi “does an excellent job of showing how man-made evolution is not only real but relevant.” And according to Booklist, Palumbi’s “enlightening discussions of the evolution of HIV, the ecological dangers posed by precipitous bioengineering, and such remarkable evolutionary phenomena as the changes in size and spawning strategies of fish in overfished regions give weight and urgency to his call for evolution literacy.”

Palumbi studies the genetics and evolution of a wide range of marine organisms, from sea urchins and corals to whales and butterflyfish. He also applies molecular genetic techniques to marine conservation, including the identification of whale and dolphin products found in commercial markets.

In addition to his research and writing, Palumbi appeared in the television series “The Future is Wild,” a computer-animated exploration of the possible courses of evolution in the next few hundred million years.

The next Honors Colloquium event will feature Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, discussing “Global Climate Change: Human Causes and Responses.” It will take place Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

The major sponsors of the 2008 Honors Colloquium are the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, the URI Office of the President, the URI Honors Program, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and the College of Arts and Sciences. Additional support came from the Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment, the Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, the deans of the remaining URI colleges, the offices of the URI vice presidents, the EPA Atlantic Ecology Division and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

For further details about the colloquium, including an updated schedule and information on parking, go to www.uri.edu/hc or contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2381 or debg@uri.edu.