University celebrating Darwin Week

By Farrah Blaydes , Staff Writer

The university celebrates Charles Darwin by holding its annual Darwin Week, which began on Feb. 12 continues through Feb. 15.

During Darwin week students and community members can participate in activities reflecting Charles Darwin’s contributions to science.

One of the co-organizers for Darwin week and professor in the Department of Zoology, Frank. E. Anderson, said Darwin week is a celebration of scientific inquiry, specifically in life sciences and evolutionary biology.


“I think SIU’s Darwin week is especially important now, as a way to energize young scientists and foster interest in the STEM disciplines in an era where the utility of scientific inquiry is being increasingly questioned — and occasionally directly opposed or ignored — at many levels in our society,“ Anderson said.

Darwin is most known for his theory of evolution. He believed that all organisms arise from the natural selection of variations, which increase the species’ capability to survive.

The university began celebrating International Darwin Day in 2006 and this year several professors turned the day celebration into a week of festivities.

Plant Biology professor and Darwin week coordinator Daniel Nickrent said his involvement in the annual celebration came from his desire to share knowledge and ideas.

“My role as a professor of Plant Biology is to help educate students as well as the general public through direct teaching and various outreach activities,” Nickrent said.

The activities are free and completely open to the public Plant Biology professor and one of the coordinators of the week Kurt Neubig said.

At 7 p.m. in the Morris Library Guyon Auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 13 there was a mini-symposium, where SIU students from multiple departments will discussed their Darwin-related research.


On Wednesday, Feb. 14 there will be a public screening of the Public Broadcast Service’s special “Your Inner Fish”.

“University of Chicago professor Neil Shubin leads us through the fascinating history of how our bodies came to be as they are,” Anderson said when describing the event.

Then on Feb. 15, Dr. Johnathan Losos from Washington University will give two talks. His first will be a technical talk about his research at 4 p.m. in the Life Science III auditorium.

His lecture is titled, “Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree: Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles,” according to a university press release.

“Then we have our big event — the keynote address where Dr. Losos talks about his new book, Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution,” Anderson said.

Losos’s keynote address begins at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium in the Lesar Law Building, according to a university press release.

“It culminates in a plenary lecture on Thursday night that should attract the most appeal to the general public. We are very lucky to have our invited speaker, Dr. Jonathan Losos, who will discuss the ‘Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution’,” Neubig said.

Darwin week is an opportunity for the university’s students and southern Illinois’ communities members to learn about amazing research that is happening right on campus, Anderson said.

He said Darwin week is about celebrating Darwin’s intellectual legacy in science, art and film, as well as, meet a world-class biologist and listen to revolutionary biological research.

Anderson and the other coordinators of the Darwin week encourage the campus and surrounding communities to join this week’s events.

Staff writer Farrah Blaydes can be reached at 

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.