Darwin Day celebration — Feb. 13 in MSB

The UW-Madison’s fifth annual Darwin Day celebration will take place on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in campus’ Microbial Sciences Building. The event, which is free and open to the public, is both a celebration of Charles Darwin’s birthday–he was born 201 years ago this month–and an opportunity for the greater Madison community to come together to explore all things evolution.

This year, the UW’s evolution community will have an additional reason to make merry when it gathers. Last month, the University Academic Planning Council approved the opening of a new UW-Madison institute for evolutionary studies to be housed in the genetics department. The institute, called the J.F. Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution, will help bring together and formalize the university’s disparate efforts to study and teach evolution. The institute is named for James Crow, a UW-Madison professor emeritus of genetics, who pioneered mathematical approaches to population genetics and molecular evolution more than a half century ago.

Darwin Day’s morning session starts at 9 a.m. and will feature three talks: “Charles Darwin and Orchids: Confessions of a 200 Year-Old Orchid Fanatic” by Ken Cameron, a UW-Madison associate professor of botany and director of Wisconsin State Herbarium; “Leaping Lizards! Studies of Ecology and Evolution in the Caribbean” by Jonathan Losos, a professor in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; and a teacher workshop on evolution led by UW-Madison outreach specialists Brooke Norsted and Kristin Jenkins.

The afternoon session includes a talk by Catherine Marler, an associate professor of psychology and zoology at UW-Madison, titled “Victory Alters Hormones, the Brain, and Future Ability to Compete,” followed by a panel discussion on the challenges of communicating science, led by handful of professional science communicators.

For those with children, a number of family-friendly science stations will be open from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the Darwin Day 2010 web site.