Lenski’s lecture, entitled “Evolution in Action: Bugs and Bytes,” will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, in Sumner Auditorium on the Scripps Oceanography campus, 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla (Sumner Auditorium is one-half block north of El Paseo Grande). The lecture is free and open to the public.
Lenski’s research explores the genetic mechanisms and ecological processes that underlie evolution. While most evolutionary research is done by the comparative method or by studying fossils, Lenski watches evolution as it happens through experiments with organisms such as bacteria that replicate, mutate and evolve quickly. In an experiment started 20 years ago, Lenski and his team watch populations of the harmful bacteria Escherichia coli, commonly known as E-coli, evolve in the laboratory to investigate the dynamics of adaptation and diversification. More recently, Lenski and interdisciplinary collaborators have extended the idea of evolution experiments to artificial life in the form of computer programs that replicate, mutate and evolve to solve computational problems.
“It’s a real honor to be invited to give a lecture by such an illustrious institution as Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and all the more so when the lecture series has been funded by one of the institution’s own faculty, Dr. Rosenblatt, and his wife,” said Lenski. “It’s an exciting opportunity to be a public voice for basic, curiosity-driven science.”
Lenski is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Rosenblatt Lectureship is part of an endowed series of yearly lectures by distinguished evolutionary biologists. It was created by ichthyologist Richard Rosenblatt and his wife, Glenda. Rosenblatt, who has been associated with Scripps since 1958, is a Scripps professor and curator emeritus of the Marine Vertebrates Collection, part of the Scripps Oceanographic Collections, the largest and most complete university-based oceanographic collection in the world.
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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at UC San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and graduate training in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.