July 23, 2014  

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First Darwin Day at Southern Miss Features Renowned Scientist, Author

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Dr. Massimo Pigliucci

The University of Southern Mississippi is celebrating the birthday of Charles Darwin with its first “Darwin Day” Feb. 14 on the Hattiesburg campus. 

The event features exhibits, morning spotlight talks by a group of diverse Southern Miss students and professors and afternoon events featuring a Darwin Quiz and teaching workshop. 

At 1 p.m., Dr. Massimo Pigliucci of the City University of New York (CUNY)-Lehman College will present the keynote address, “Science, Pseudoscience and All That Jazz” in Thad Cochran Center Ballroom I.

Pigliucci is professor and chair in the Department of Philosophy, CUNY-Lehman and CUNY-Graduate Center. He earned a doctorate in genetics from the University of Ferrara, Italy, a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in philosophy of science from the University of Tennessee.

His research interests include the philosophy of science and biology, the relationship between science and religion and the philosophy of pseudoscience.  He has authored numerous books including Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk, Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life, and Making Sense of Evolution: The Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Biology

Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around February 12, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. The event celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin, the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor.

Dr. Donald Yee, an assistant professor in Biological Sciences, who is helping to coordinate the event, says the event in interdisciplinary in nature with speakers from USM’s Department of English, Anthropology and Sociology, and Psychology. 

“We want the event to give people a better understanding and appreciation of Darwin’s work on evolution and natural selection while also giving them an understanding of how the planet works including medicine, psychology, and biology,” said Yee. 

The event is sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences with support from the College of Science and Technology, Honors College, Center for Math and Science Education, Graduate Student Forum, and Tri-Beta Biological Society at Southern Miss. 

“This is the first time we have ever held a Darwin Day at USM,” said Yee.  “We hope to make it an annual event.”

Yee says the event includes more than lectures. “The afternoon features an exciting quiz bowl type event.  Faculty square off with graduate students in a ‘Darwin Quiz’ to answer questions about Darwin, evolution, and related topics in a jeopardy-style format. There also will be a teaching workshop, where we hope to provide informational to USM faculty and local K-12 teachers in techniques for most effectively teaching evolution and the scientific method

The public is invited to the event. For more information, visit www.usm.edu/biological-sciences/events.

The schedule of events at each location is as follows:

8:00 - 1:00 pm

Exhibits related to Darwin and Evolution Biological Sciences Learning Center (Mississippi Hall)

8:00 - 8:45 am

Lecture by Ms. Jennifer Robertson, Department of English

(Polymer Science Auditorium)

Descent of Man on the Atlantic: Transnational literary Response to the theory of sexual selection

 9:00 - 9:45 am

Lecture by Dr. Mac Alford, Department of Biological Sciences

(Polymer Science Auditorium)

They are related to what?! How evolutionary theory, DNA, and computers have transformed our understanding of biodiversity

10:00 - 10:45 am        

Lecture by Dr. Stan Kuczaj, Department of Psychology

(Polymer Science Auditorium)

Why would Darwin care about personality?

11:00 - 11:45 pm        

Lecture by Dr. Marie Danforth, Department of Anthropology and Sociology

(Polymer Science Auditorium)

3% Neanderthal:  Recent research on our closest relatives

1:00 - 2:00 pm

Keynote address by Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, CUNY-Lehman College

(Thad Cochran Ballroom 1)

Science, Pseudoscience, and all that jazz

2:00 - 3:00 pm

Reception, book signing, and cake and ice cream social (Biological

Sciences Learning Center, Mississippi Hall)

3:00 - 4:00 pm

Darwin Quiz: Faculty vs. graduate student teams answer questions about Darwin, evolution, and related topics in a jeopardy style format (Biological Sciences Learning Center, Mississippi Hall)

4:00 - 6:00 pm

Teaching workshop: teaching evolution to a diverse student body

Formal presentation by faculty

Q & A with panel (including Dr. Pigliucci) (WSB 120)