Salem State's annual Darwin Festival was founded in 1980 by Philip A. DePalma and Virginia F. Keville. It's a weeklong event that celebrates the work of Charles Darwin, with sessions from leading researchers celebrating the field of biology and its impact on today's world.

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Recent Submissions

  • Evolution, Ethics, and Engineering Wild Mice to Stop Lyme Disease

    Esvelt, Kevin; Salem State Biology Department, Earth Days and the College of Arts and Sciences (2024-04-08)
    When and how should we consider editing wild organisms, and how can communities guide research intended to change our shared environment? The Mice Against Ticks project, which aims to prevent Lyme disease by editing white-footed mice so they can't infect ticks, is trying to find out.
  • Diversity Matters: From Evolution to the Workplace

    Quiñones-Soto, Semarhy; Salem State University Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2024-02-15)
    Diversity can refer to genetic variations within an evolving population or to different individuals who contribute to a productive workplace. This talk focuses on the intersection between science and art as a way to teach about diversity.
  • Prolonged Blue Light Exposure Alters Phototransduction Efficiency and One-Carbon Metabolism Processes in the Drosophila Eye

    Stanhope, Sarah; Sponsored by the Salem State University Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2024-02-15)
    Oxidative stress in the eye is associated with the development and progression of ocular diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. This talk focuses on how blue light exposure results in oxidative stress in the Drosophila eye and will discuss proteins that are susceptible to changes in oxidation status and/or redox signaling events. Interestingly, we identified several key phototransduction and one-carbon metabolism proteins with oxidative modifications correlating with changes in enzymatic activity.
  • Strategic Growth in Social Vertebrates

    Buston, Peter; Salem State University Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2024-02-12)
    Recent evidence suggests that social vertebrates can modify their growth and size in an adaptive fashion in response to fine-grain changes in social conditions. In this talk, I will review experimental evidence for strategic growth in social vertebrates, describe conditions under which strategic growth commonly occurs, and highlight examples of convergent evolution of strategic growth across the tree of life.
  • From Air to Makeup: Addressing Environmental Justice in the U.S.

    Martinez, Micaela; Salem State University SACNAS Chapter and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2024-02-15)
    This talk will explore opportunities for centering social justice as we, as a society, address climate change and other environmental crises. We will discuss how structural racism impacts environmental exposures and health in the U.S.; then, we will go in-depth into examples of how advocates, community members, and scientists are coming together to tackle air pollution and toxic chemicals in beauty products.
  • Dear Paranthropus, WTF* Did You Eat?

    Uno, Kevin; Salem State University Geological Sciences Department and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2024-02-14)
    Animals interact the most with their environment when feeding so reconstructing diets of extinct species can provide insight into their ecology and evolution. In the case of humans, *what types of food did our ancient ancestors, like closely related Homo erectus and distantly related Paranthropus boisei, eat? In this talk, I’ll reveal what isotopes in teeth tell us about our past.
  • Science Superpowers: Not What You Think

    Romano Young, Karen; Salem State University Biological Society and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2024-02-12)
    I'm no Einstein, but I've figured out what I need to do to get ahead in science -- and to share what I've figured out with kids. Through my books, science comics, and a new project called I Was A Kid (designed to invite the next generation into STEAM), I'll fill you in, and send you out with new ideas about ways to engage kids -- and yourself!
  • Managing Present and Increased Coastal Flooding in Boston

    Kirshen, Paul; Salem State Geography and Sustainability Department and the College of Arts and Sciences (2024-02-14)
    In 2018 the City of Boston made the decision to use shore-based nature-based approaches (NBA) to manage present and increased coastal flooding. The alternative to this was to construct a massive offshore harbor-wide barrier. Effective implementation of NBA will require research into the socio-economic and biophysical performance of these systems.
  • Immunity to Tuberculosis

    Acheampong, Ellen; Salem State University Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2024-02-16)
    Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterial pathogen that causes tuberculosis, is responsible for 10 million cases and 1.5 million deaths each year. Fortunately, most infected people never develop disease. This presentation will discuss what immune components are required to contain infection and why immunity fails and permits disease in some cases.
  • Living with White Sharks

    Skomal, Greg; Salem State Scuba Club and ThermoFisher Scientific (2024-02-16)
    For more than a decade, the Division of Marine Fisheries and collaborators have been studying the ecology and behavior of white sharks off Cape Cod using state-of-the-art tagging technology. This presentation will highlight how this research is being used to mitigate potential shark and human conflicts.
  • Cilia, diseases, and organelle assembly - Leeuwenhoek’s ‘little legs’ in the spotlight

    Brown, Jason; Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2023-02-17)
    Cilia are hair-like structures extending from many cell types including single-celled organisms and cells throughout the human body. Multiple human diseases, the ciliopathies, are caused by defective cilia. In recent decades, much underlying ultrastructural and biochemical complexity of these important organelles has been discovered, but many questions remain unanswered. Dr. Brown will discuss cilia assembly, the ciliopathies, and the work he and his students have been doing to understand the mechanism of cilia gene regulation.
  • Reconstructing Environments of the Past: In what conditions did our ancestors survive and thrive?

    Beck, Catherine; Geological Sciences Department and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2023-02-16)
    From the earliest primates to modern humans, our history as a species has been characterized by environmental change and variability. Through studying the geological record we can reconstruct the past environments associated with fossil primates and hominins. This allows us to build and test hypotheses about how climatic and tectonic processes shaped the eastern African ecosystems in which our species evolved and ultimately migrated from to colonize the globe.
  • What is the role of citrullination in ALS?

    Camille, Webb; Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2023-02-17)
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease. Degeneration of motor neurons occurs because of toxic protein aggregation. Protein Citrullination (PC) is altered dynamically in the spinal cord during disease progression and accumulates in protein aggregates. This presentation aims to discuss what is currently known and uncover novel proteins that are citrullinated in ALS.
  • A Voice in the Wilderness: A Pioneering Biologist Explains How Evolution Can Help Us Solve our Biggest Problems.

    Graves, Joseph L.; Biology Department and the College of Arts and Sciences (2023-02-15)
    Evolutionary science has long been regarded as conservative, a tool for enforcing regressive ideas, particularly about race and gender. But in A Voice in the Wilderness, evolutionary biologist Joseph L. Graves Jr.—once styled as the “Black Darwin”—argues that his field is essential to social justice. He shows, for example, why biological races do not exist. He dismantles recent work in “human biodiversity” seeking genes to explain the achievements of different ethnic groups. He decimates homophobia, sexism, and classism as well.

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