February 11, 2011 marked the 202nd birthday of Charles Darwin and the 152nd year since the publication of The Origin of Species.
Central Washington University celebrated Darwin Day on Feb 11th with a Natural Science Seminar lecture titled "Holocene Fire and Vegetation History of the Pacific Northwest: Lessons from the Past", presented by Dr. Megan Walsh, CWU Department of Geography. In the evening, Beth Amsbary prsented a play titled "Emma Darwin's Helpful Suggestions for Surviving Life with a Scientist", directed by Cynthia White. In this one woman presentation, Emma revealed the culture of 19th century England as well as the nature of scientific inquiry. The evening culminated with a birthday cake celebration.
David B. Wake, a distinguished evolutionary biologist from the University of California, Berkeley, will visit campus on April 19th and 20th as the 2010 Dumas Lecturer. Dr. Wake will present lectures in the Department of Biological Science and for the general public on his research in the areas of evolution, speciation, and declining amphibian populations.
In his lecture, Darwin's Species: A Modern Perspective from Studies of a Salamander Ring-species (Monday, April 19, 4pm, 147 Science), Wake will discuss his long-term studies on the ensatina salamander species complex found in Washington, Oregon, and California. These salamanders present an unusual geographic distribution that has allowed insights into the process of species formation. The Dumas Lecture will follow onTuesday evening the 20th (7pm, Hertz Hall Auditorium) when Wake will present Amphibians: Harbingers of a Sixth Extinction? In this presentation, he will discuss the decline in world-wide amphibian populations. This phenomenon, first noted in the early 1990's, has prompted much herpetological research. Wake will summarize the current state of our understanding and discuss the broader ecological implications.
Both lectures are open to the public, and anybody interested in biological evolution, amphibians, or global environmental issues is encouraged to attend.
Dumas Lecture Series: The lecture series is named in honor of the late Dr. Phil Dumas who was a CWU Professor of Biological Sciences from the mid-1960's until he retired in 1989. Dumas is credited as being a major influence on the Biology Department's development and direction - an influence that remains evident today.
Dumas served as department chair from 1966-1975 and again in 1980-1984. He died in October 1992. After his death his wife, Joan, was instrumental in establishing the Philip C. Dumas Lecture in Biology series, sponsored by the CWU Department of Biological Sciences.
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