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Renowned Scientist to Speak on Darwin Day


Darwin Day at The University of Southern Mississippi will take place Friday on the Hattiesburg campus. The series of activities are organized by the Department of Biological Sciences with assistance from the BSC Graduate Student Forum and the “Tri-Beta Biological Society, Southern Miss.”

The day of activities will feature various exhibits and a documentary educating the public on Charles Darwin and his works.

A faculty panel, T-shirt sales, a bake sale and a lecture by renowned scientist Jerry Coyne from The University of Chicago and author of the book “Why Evolution is True” will take place during the day.

Darwin Day is a global commemoration, held on or near Feb. 12, of scientific achievements of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, born on this day in 1809. Charles Darwin was the first man to discover that the pattern of biological evolution resulted by means of natural selection. 

This is USM’s second Darwin Day celebration.

Each year, we invite a prominent national evolutionary biologist to give a talk at the event and the talks are aimed to the general public,” USM biology professor Jake Schaefer said. “We want them to talk about evolutionary biology in ways relatable to anyone on campus.”

On the organizing committee are USM biology professor Donald Yee, Mac Alford and Jennifer Regan, all of whom are from the Department of Biological Sciences. They are responsible for bringing in Coyne and generally organizing other events.

Darwin Day is celebrated by other universities in the U.S. and there are Darwin Days celebrated by various countries all over the world, all centered  around his birthday,” Yee said. “The goal of Darwin Day at USM is to promote not only Darwin’s contribution in science, but to highlight the university and its science departments.”

The scheduled events for Darwin Day will begin at 9 a.m., when evolution exhibits will be displayed along with a public viewing of the PBS documentary “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” until 1 p.m.

From 11-11:45 a.m., a panel discussion of “Judgement Day” will take place with Sam Bruton from the Department of Philosophy and Religion, Andrew Haley from the Department of History and Frank Moore from the Department of Biological Sciences.

Throughout the day until 4 p.m. Darwin Day T-shirts will be sold at the Thad Cochran Center entrance and a graduate student forum will occur and, until noon, a bake sale will take place.

A keynote address titled “Why Evolution is True, and Why Americans Aren’t Buying It” by  Coyne will take place from 2-3 p.m. in Thad Cochran Ballroom I, followed by a cake and ice cream social and a book signing by Coyne. All events are free and open to the public.

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Renowned Scientist to Speak on Darwin Day