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Darwin Day Lectures

Neil Shubin gave our Darwin Day Lecture for 2024 on Wednesday February 7th at 3:30pm.

Neil in a blue hat and red coat holding a fossil of Tiktalik
Neil with Tiktaalik. Photo from

Neil Shubin, a trailblazing evolutionary biologist known for his groundbreaking research, including the discovery of Tiktaalik, a pivotal transitional fossil, is set to deliver the highly anticipated 2024 Darwin Day Lecture on February 7th. The event, part of Vanderbilt University’s Evolutionary Studies Initiative International Darwin Day celebrations, will kick off at 3:30 pm in Buttrick Hall 101, featuring an engaging talk by Shubin. Admission is free, and the public is warmly invited.

A distinguished figure in the scientific community, Shubin is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous accolades, solidifying his position as a leading researcher in evolutionary biology. His popular science book, Your Inner Fish, was selected as the best book of 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. The book explores the evidence for and ways in which the process of evolution started with fish and created humans over thousands of generations. The book, after being produced into a series by PBS, won the National Academy of Sciences 2015 Communication Award as well.

Delving into the mysteries of evolutionary transitions, Shubin’s work has reshaped our understanding of vertebrate innovations. His notable discovery of Tiktaalik, a fish-tetrapod transitional fossil, provides crucial insights into the evolution of life forms, showcasing the interconnectedness of different species.

Shubin’s presentation will draw from decades of research, exploring the origin of key vertebrate features and shedding light on the evolutionary processes that have shaped diverse forms of life. Attendees can expect a captivating journey through the scientific discoveries that have defined Shubin’s illustrious career.

Shubin’s academic journey includes earning an A.B. from Columbia University (1982), a Ph.D. from Harvard University (1987). He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2017 and served as interim co-director of the┬áMarine Biological Laboratory that same year. In 2019, he received the Roy Chapman Andrews Society Distinguished Explorer Award.

Below is a searchable table of previous Darwin Day speakers.

Neil ShubinUniversity of Chicago2024 02/09Finding Your Inner Fish: Genes, Embryos, and Fossils in EvolutionPress Release
Richard LenskiMichigan State University2023 02/08Time travel in experimental evolutionPress Release
Beth ShapiroUniversity of California, Santa Cruz2022 02/09Climate change and the blending of speciesPress Release
Sean B. CarrollUniversity of Maryland2021 02/10A series of fortunate events: Chance and the making of the planet, life, and youVideo, Press Release
Jonathan LososWashington University, St. Louis2020 02/12Using experiments in nature to study evolution in real time: Research on lizard adaptation in the BahamasPress Release