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Associate professor Larisa DeSantis to give prestigious scientific talk in Ireland

Posted by on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 in featured.

By Andy Flick, Evolutionary Studies scientific coordinator

Larisa DeSantis – associate professor of the biological sciences & Earth and environmental sciences departments – will be giving the Royal Irish Academy Discourse Lecture on Monday, July 18th at 2pm central time. The Royal Irish Academy is good company to keep – including famous evolutionist Charles Darwin. Recently, speakers at this event have included four Nobel laureates and a former president of Ireland.

For the first time in its 236-year history, the lecture will also be a part of a scientific society meeting. The 66th Annual Meeting of the Paleontological Association will be starting Monday and running through Sunday July 24th.

“I am thrilled to be giving this talk! It is a rare opportunity to highlight the importance of the fossil record in helping us conserve our future,” DeSantis explained.

DeSantis recently helped found the new climate and environmental studies program at Vanderbilt University. Her talk will heavily lean on the themes of climate science and environmental studies throughout and is titled, Academy Discourse: Decoding the past to conserve our future.

The talk will be streamed live from Cork, Ireland and is free and open to the public. Follow this link to find out more and register for the talk. The abstract of the talk is below:

Mammalian communities have undergone dramatic ecological and evolutionary changes throughout time. While it can be difficult for us to recognize and perceive the magnitude of these changes in a human lifetime, conservation paleobiology leverages the fossil record to provide critical insights into mammalian responses to climate change across the globe. From the study of ancient animals like sabertooth cats and marsupial lions, ancient life serves as “canaries in the coal mine”—alerting global citizens to the consequences of climate change for life on Earth. This talk will explore how dietary information locked in fossilized teeth is decoded, and how the ancient past can reveal cautionary conservation lessons and even warn us about our potential future.

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