Bethune science talks focus on Charles Darwin and his ideas

Next year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, so it’s the perfect time to take stock of his achievement.  

                                              Right: Charles Darwin

Darwiniana is the theme of this year’s Science & Society/Bethune Science Seminars, three discussions about the 19th-century scientist and his theory of evolution. They range from the science of natural selection and phylogeny (the evolutionary development of organisms), to the interior life of the man who changed how we thought about nature and ourselves.  

In the first talk Oct. 23, York biology and history Professor Jan Sapp (left) discusses how molecular phylogenetic investigations of deep evolution have come to contradict the central tenets of classical Darwinian theory. The author of six books, Sapp is a molecular biologist with a particular interest in coral reef ecology and the history of cell, molecular and evolutionary biology.

In the second talk Nov. 20, Leah Cowen (below left), Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infectious Disease at the University of Toronto, looks at the pressing health issue of microbial drug resistance as a case of Darwinism in action. Cowen studies the molecular mechanisms that microbes use to adapt to stressful environments in her search for new strategies to treat infectious diseases.

In the third talk March 11, Janet Browne (below right), Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard and Darwin’s foremost biographer, looks at how Darwin’s face quietly became the public image of evolution. Her two-volume Darwin biography, Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, has won literary and scholarly prizes, including the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Prize.

The talks are free and open to all. They are of particular interest to scientists, those involved in science and technology studies, and the history and philosophy of science.  

All are held in the Paul Delaney Gallery, 320 Bethune College, at 3pm.