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Fall 2020

The Evolution@Vanderbilt Seminar Series is held online via Zoom on Wednesdays at 3.10pm. Immediately following each seminar (4.15-5.00pm), we are hosting a virtual reception. This reception is a traditional zoom gathering where all are welcome. To register for a talk, please follow the instructions posted (typically a week before each talk) at @EvolutionVU. To participate at our receptions, please send an email to and we will add you to our e-mailing list. For past talks, please check out our YouTube channel.

Fall 2020 Schedule




August 26

Harmit Malik, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Rules of engagement: molecular arms races between host and viral genomes (watch)

August 31

Ann Tate, Vanderbilt University

Immune system optimization in a variable world

September 9

Blaine Schubert, East Tennessee State University

The extraordinary Gray Fossil Site of Northeastern Tennessee (watch)

September 16

Ann Reid, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education

Changing Minds about Evolution and Climate Change in the Classroom and Beyond (watch)

September 23

Joan Strassmann, Washington University in St. Louis

Why are symbioses so common: the amoebae – bacteria case (watch)

September 30

Stephen Ferguson, Vanderbilt University

Jacob Steenwyk, Vanderbilt University

Chemosensory regulation of collective behavior in eusocial ants (watch)

When two become one: the hybrid origin of clinical fungal isolates (watch)

October 7

Brandt Gibson, Vanderbilt University

Melissa Pardi, Illinois State Museum

Evolution of the oldest macroscopic eukaryotes: perspective from fluid mechanics

The last of ice age giants: climate change as an unlikely driver of Late Pleistocene proboscidean extinctions and extirpations

October 14

Terrence W. Deacon, University of California-Berkeley

Falling Up: Evolution’s Complexity Ratchet (watch)

October 28

Kenneth Catania & Larisa DeSantis, Vanderbilt University

Zombies, Chest-bursters, and ghosts in the darkness: evolution’s spooky science stories (watch)

November 4

Judith Mank, University of British Columbia

Repeated divergence and remarkable diversity of the guppy sex chromosomes

November 11

Alistair Evans, Monash University

A universal power law for the growth and form of teeth, horns, shells and thorns

November 18

Karen Sears, University of California-Los Angeles

Developmental origins and evolution of bats