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Department of Biological Sciences
Science Building, Room 338
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7537
(509) 963-2731

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Darwin Day

The Department of Biological Sciences, in conjunction with the College of the Sciences, would like to invite all interested students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members to a celebration of the science of evolution and Darwin's contributions to our modern world.

Thematic events, including talks, a birthday cake party and discussions occur during the week of Darwin’s birthday, February 12th.


2023 Celebration

Darwin Day Guest Presentation

"Evolution in a Rapidly Changing World."
Dr. Sarah (Sally) P. Otto, Dept. of Zoology, Univ. of British Columbia; Ph.D. Stanford University.

February 10th, 12:00 p.m. 

Dr. Otto will present over Zoom, with audience viewing of the talk held in Science Building, Room 147. 

Using mathematical modeling and experimental evolution, Dr. Otto investigates the evolutionary forces generating biological diversity. With over 200 publications and a book, awards include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Steacie Prize, a Canada Research Chair, and fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada and the National Academy of Sciences. 

Poster showing pricing of Darwin Day 2023 tee shirts for sale.      Darwin Day 2023 Short Sleeve tee shirt, dark brown with espalier tree inked in bright green.

T-Shirts are available for purchase on Friday, Feb. 10th or contact the main office at or 509.963.2731

Past Events

2022 Celebration

Meet & greet and a presentation by Dr. Leonard Jones, Postdoctoral Researcher at MSU.  

"Snakes and Simulations: Exploring Drivers of Genetic Divergence Through Time and Space."  

Poster of 2022 Darwin Day Lecture






And...keep the celebration going all year with the purchase of our 2022 Darwin Day t-shirt!  

Flyer of 2022 Darwin Day for Sale (students posing in shirt)













2021 Celebration

"A Taste for the Beautiful, Darwin’s Sexual Selection Theory at 150" 

Feb 12th at 4pm (virtual)

Presenter: Dr. Michael J. Ryan, the Clark Hubbs Regents Professor in Zoology at the University of Texas, Austin, will discuss Darwin's second great but controversial theory on sexual selection, and the idea that females have aesthetic preference for male sexual traits, by highlighting recent studies on the neural and cognitive aspects of mate choice.


2020 Celebration

Title: Parasitic Mind Control: The Apex of Evolution
Presenter:  Dr. Gabrielle Stryker, CWU Department of Biological Sciences

Darwin Day 2020 Poster  





















2019 Celebration

Title: Becoming Charles Darwin

Presenter:  Dr. Lixing Sun, CWU Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Sun shares some lesser known stories involving Darwin's education, family life, and personal crises, and we will learn how these experiences helped shape the famous naturalist, biologist and theorist of evolution.

2019 Darwin Day Poster


















2018 Celebration

Title: Beautiful Weapons and the Diversity of Life

Location: Hertz Hall Theater, Room 100

Performers:  Gonzaga University Repertory Dance Company

2018 Darwin Day Poster


For the keynote presentation of our Darwin Day celebrations this year, we are excited to bring to campus a unique study of biodiversity and evolution.  "Beautiful Weapons and the Diversity of Life" is a dance performance by the Gonzaga University Repertory Dance Company. 

Discussion after the performance will be led by Dr. Brook Swanson, a comparative physiologist in the Department of Biology at Gonzaga University and Suzanne Ostersmith, Gonzaga University Dance Director.



2017 Celebration

Title: From Bones to Behavior: Using Sign of Injury and Illness to Understand the Lives of Extinct Mammals

Presenter: Dr. Meaghan Wetherell, CWU Department of Geological Sciences


Title: Chasing Darwin:  Ten Days in the Galapagos with a Biologist and Geologist

Presenter: Drs. Holly Pinkart (CWU Department of Biological Sciences) and Bob Hickey (CWU Department of Geography)


Title: Hobo Sapiens: History of a Peripatetic Species

Presenter: Dr. Joe Lorenz, CWU Department of Anthropology



2016 Celebration

Title: Cuddling with Nature:  Aesthetics, Biophilia, and Evolution

Presenter: Lixing Sun, CWU Department of Biological Sciences

2016 Darwin Day Poster Turtle with Origin of Species Text in Shell
















2015 Celebration

2015 Darwin Poster








Title: The History, Evolution, and Future of Alpine Plants in the Rocky Mountain Floristic Region

Presenter: Dr. Eric DeChaine, Curator of the Pacific Northwest Herbarium at Western Washington University.


The Rocky Mountain Floristic Region, spanning the Rocky, Coast, Cascade, and Sierra Nevada Mountains from New Mexico to Alaska, is one of the most botanically diverse regions in North America. Alpine plants inhabit a fragmented archipelago of sky islands within this landscape. Some species are widespread, while others are narrowly endemic. The diversity and distribution of these high elevation taxa have been and will continue to be strongly influenced by the climatic variability of the Quaternary.


Let's Celebrate: 156 Years Since the Publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species

Performers from the popular local dance troupe, TusuyPeru, music and yummy birthday cake, all in honor of Charles Darwin.

Title: Why the Rush?  Evolutionary Perspectives on Addiction

To celebrate Charles Darwin's 206th birthday, the Museum of Culture and Environment will host a panel discussion regarding evolutionary perspectives on addiction, including the emergence of opiate and dopamine pathways.  Why wasn't addiction, which seems so destructive, "bred out" of human populations long ago? Is a propensity to addiction a by-product of neurobiological processes that offer significant adaptive advantages to our species?


Presenters: Featuring CWU faculty members, Drs. Kara Gabriel (Psychology), Lucinda Carnell (Biological Sciences), and Joe Lorenz (Anthropology and Museum Studies), the round-table will be moderated by Dr. David Darda (Biological Sciences), followed by a question and answer period for the audience.



2014 Celebration

Title: Epigenetics: A New Dimension to Understanding Disease, Behavior, and All that Makes You, You.

Presenter: Dr. Jennifer Dechaine, CWU Biological Sciences


Title: Oddball Anatomical Structures and the Stories They Tell:  The Governor of the Testes.

Presenter: Dr. David Darda, CWU Biological Sciences


Title: The Fairness Instinct: The Robin Hood Mentality and Our Biological Nature.

Presenter: Dr. Lixing Sun: 


Title: Darwin vs. Mendel: The Historical Grudge Match for the Soul of Biology.

Presenter: Dr. Dominic Klyve, CWU Mathematics


Title: Love in the Time of the Pleistocene.

Presenter: Dr. Joe Lorenz, CWU Anthropology

Dr. Lorenz, a biological anthropologist, will talk on the complicated and intimate relations between Neanderthals and early modern humans.


2013 Celebration