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Renowned Evolutionary Paleontologist Neil Shubin to Deliver Darwin Day Lecture

Posted by on Tuesday, January 23, 2024 in featured.

By: Andy Flick Evolutionary Studies scientific coordinator

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. Finding Your Inner Fish: Genes, Embryos, and Fossils in Evolution, 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.

Neil Shunin holding tiktaalik. Shubin smiling wearing glasses and a black vest and blue shirt
Shubin holding a fossil model of Tiktaalik, original image here.

A distinguished figure in the scientific community, Shubin is as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous accolades, solidifying his position as a leading researcher in evolutionary biology.

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.

In addition to his work with transitional fossils, Shubin has contributed significantly to the field of evolutionary biology through digital evolution experiments using Avida. This open-source computational platform has allowed researchers to demonstrate the evolution of complex features from simpler building blocks, challenging preconceived notions about the possibilities of evolutionary processes.

Neil Shubin’s academic journey includes earning a A.B. from Columbia College (1982), a Ph.D. from the Harvard University (1987). He then spent time at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.  Since 2001, he has held a professorship at Chicago University currently serving as the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Organismal Biology and on the Anatomy Committee on Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology.

The Evolutionary Studies Initiative at Vanderbilt University, established in August 2019, continues to foster collaboration among scholars from diverse disciplines with a shared passion for evolution-related fields. Join us on February 7th to be part of this exciting exploration into the wonders of evolutionary biology with Neil Shubin.

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