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Binghamton University to hold evolutionary lecture series


Binghamton University is sponsoring a five-part lecture series featuring distinguished scientists and scholars who approach their diverse subjects from an evolutionary perspective. The lectures are free and open to the community.

Speakers will address a series of issues, including evolutionary biology, factors influencing IQ, kinship through patterns of altruism and opposition to incest, genetics and mental disorders.

Michael A Bell will be the first speaker in the series and is scheduled to discuss “Evolutionary research opportunities in Cook Inlet, Alaska, using stickleback as a model organism ”at noon, Friday, September 5, in room 214 of the Science III building. At 4 p.m., Bell will discuss “Evolutionary Time Series in Natural Populations of Stickleback Fish” in Science III, room 250.

Bell is an evolutionary biologist who uses stickleback fish as a model organism for studying a broad range of topics. His research combines studies of microevolution in existing populations of sticklebacks with studies of the fossil record for the same species. His interests include paleontology, geographical variation, evolutionary time series, and differential survival and reproduction in natural and experimental populations.

The second lecture in the series is scheduled for Friday, September 12. James A. Flynn will discuss “What Causes the General Intelligence Factor (g)?” at noon in room 224 of Science IV. At 3:30 p.m., Flynn will discuss “Nature-nurture Interactions: The IQ Paradox Resolved” in Science I, room 149. 

Flynn is professor emeritus at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and recipient of the UO’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Career Research. He is best known for the “Flynn effect,” the discovery of massive IQ gains from one generation to another.

He has been Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford) and Distinguished Visiting Speaker at Cornell.

The third lecture is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, September 29. Debra Lieberman will discuss “Mapping the Architecture of Human Kin Detection Systems Through Patterns of Altruism and Opposition to Incest.” The location of the lecture will be announced at a later date.

Lieberman became interested in evolutionary studies as a BU undergraduate student and did her graduate work with Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, leading proponents of evolutionary psychology, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii.

Matthew Keller will present the fourth lecture of the series. The date and the time for this lecture will be announced at a later date. Keller will discuss “An evolutionary genetics framework for mental disorders. ”

Keller received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and is entering his sixth and final year as a student in psychology (PhD) and statistics (MA) at the University of Michigan, working with Randolf Nesse, one of the founders of the field of Darwinian medicine. His current projects are on the adaptive function of low mood, on weather’s effect on mood and cognition, on social cognition and evolution, and on the evolutionary genetics of mental disorders.

The final lecture in the series will feature Joshua Greene, who will discuss “Kant vs. Mill in the Brain: Neural Activity Correlated with Outcome(s) of Moral Decisions” The date, time and of this lecture will be announced at a later date.

Greene is a cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher whose experimental research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural bases of moral judgment. He received his doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University in 2002 for work examining the foundations of ethics in light of recent advances in psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary theory. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology and Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior at Princeton University.

The lecture series is sponsored by the departments of Biology, Psychology and Philosophy.

For more information, contact David Sloan Wilson at 607-777-6521.

Last Updated: 9/17/13