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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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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, birthday cake parties and discussions occur during the week of Darwin’s birthday, February 12th.


2023 Celebration

Check back in late January / early February 2023 for the event schedule.


Past Events

2022 Celebration

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

Meet & Greet 

Thursday, February 10th from 3:00-4:30pm in the Grupe Center (masks required)

Darwin Day Lecture Series

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

Presenter: Dr. Leonard Jones

Friday, February 11th at 3pm in Discovery Hall 103 and on Zoom (

You are required to wear a mask on campus.  Anyone with a disability that needs special accommodations to attend in person should contact (509) 963-2731 at least 72 hours in advance.

PDF of Poster

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



2021 Celebration

Virtual Darwin Day Lecture Series

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

Feb 12th at 4pm

Zoom URL:

Come join our annual celebration of the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday!  This year we will have only one event, but it's one you will not want to miss! 

Our speaker will be 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