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CWU Seminar to Explore Link Between Math Concepts and Evolutionary Theory

Math Explains the Living World imageMathematics may hold the key to understanding how the earth was formed and life developed—or at least that’s what CWU biology professor Ali Scoville believes.

Scoville will discuss how “Math Explains the Living World” during the first in CWU’s winter quarter Mount Stuart Mathematics Seminar series.  Scheduled for Wednesday, January 15, at 4:00 p.m. in Samuelson 252, on the Ellensburg campus, it is free and open to the public.

In her presentation, Scoville will explain how mathematical concepts could increase understanding of the connection between microevolution, which is short-term evolutionary change occurring within a single species or population, and macroevolution, long-term evolution above the species level.

“A [mathematical] framework has been derived that, I think, has a lot of potential for connecting those two areas,” she said. “The basic idea is to allow us to incorporate what we already know about non-linear developmental processes into our theoretical understanding of evolution. For me, that’s really exciting.”

“I will give a fair amount of background on how math is used in basic evolutionary theory,” she said. “Then I will go into this new development and how it works mathematically.” 
Scoville specializes in conservation biology, ecological and evolutionary genomics, and rapid evolution.
“My research students study a range of questions in the area of ecological and evolutionary genomics [function, mapping, and structure of an organism’s genetic code],” she noted. “We use a combination of field work, molecular tools, and mathematical modeling, with an emphasis on rapid evolution and conservation biology.”   
Scoville points out that a number of CWU math and computer science students conduct research and work on interdisciplinary projects with their biology peers.


Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

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