Tag Archives: Evolution; genetics; birds; DNA;

Bird Evolution – from Dinosaurs to DNA

AllanWilsonSeries2015Scott Edwards, Prof. of Zoology, Curator of Ornithology, Harvard University
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Napier venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade, Napier

BOOKINGS REQUIRED – CLICK HERE
NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society is delighted to be included in the Allan Wilson Centre’s 2015 International Lecture Series.

In this lecture, Scott Edwards explains that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs.  This theory, based almost entirely on the size and shape of fossilized bones, is now the world view shared by most evolutionists.  What is less well known is that the genomes of birds – comprised of over 1 billion DNA letters and thousands of genes – bear traces of their dinosaur ancestry as well.

Modern genomics reveals how bird genomes reflect their streamlined and high-energy lifestyles, epitomized by their ability to fly. Deciphering the language of DNA reveals the origin of birds’ unique traits, such as feathers, the mystery of evolutionary reversals, such as loss of flight, and provides clues to their stunning diversity and survival in the face of global environmental change.

ScottEdwards

Scott Edwards is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He moved to Harvard University in late 2003 as a Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology after serving as a faculty for 9 years in the Zoology Department and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Scott‘s interest in ornithology and natural history began as a child growing up in Riverdale, Bronx, NYC, where he undertook his first job in environmental science working for an environmental institute called Wave Hill.He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1986.

In New Guinea and Australia he researched ecology of birds-of-paradise and studied the genetics and population structure of a group of cooperatively breeding songbirds called babblers (Pomatostomus) found throughout Australia and New Guinea. He received his PhD in 1992 from the Department of Zoology and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, in 1992.  He conducted postdoctoral research in avian disease genetics at the University of Florida, Gainesville.  He has conducted museum-based fieldwork throughout the U.S., Australia and the Pacific region and has interests in many aspects of avian biology, including evolutionary history and biogeography, disease ecology, population genetics and comparative genomics.

He has served on the National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, the Senior Advisory Boards of the US National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), and on the Advisory Boards of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian.  He oversees a program funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the diversity of undergraduates in evolutionary biology and biodiversity science.  He is currently serving as Director of the Division of Biological Infrastructure in the Biology Directorate of the National Science Foundation.