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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  • 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.
  • Penguins, Past and Present

    Ksepka, Daniel; Biology Department and the College of Arts and Sciences (2023-02-16)
    Penguins evolved more than 60 million years ago. The rich fossil record of these birds has revealed unexpected forms such as giant (300lb+) penguins, spear-billed penguins, and penguins with red and grey feathers. These fossils provide a window into how penguins lost flight and adapted to changing environmental conditions such as drifting continents, reorganization of Southern Ocean currents, and the onset of glacial-interglacial cycles. Increasingly, scientists are combining fossil data with observations from living penguins to gain a synthetic understanding of penguin evolution. Just this year, the complete genomes of all living penguins were sequenced, providing once unimaginable insight into species boundaries, aquatic adaptations to everything from vision to metabolism, and even population expansions and crashes during the last Ice Age.
  • Life in an ancient undersea forest: the secrets of a marine ecosystem powered by wood.

    Distel, Dan; Chemistry and Physics Department and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2023-02-15)
    Sometime in the late Pleistocene, sea level rose and buried a coastal bald cypress forest beneath the sea floor. The trees and wood were preserved under the sediment for the next 60,000 years until recently exposed by hurricane waves. Once uncovered the ancient wood formed the foundation of one of the most unique marine environments ever discovered. The site now hosts a diverse marine community, fueled by wood, and dominated by wood-eating bivalves and other wood-associated marine invertebrates. I will discuss the diversity of organisms that thrive in this environment and the special role played by wood-eating bivalves (shipworms) and the cellulolytic bacteria that enable their unusual woody diet.
  • Evolution In The Anthropocene:  How will life's capacity to adapt to global change reshape the world of our children?

    Kaufman, Les; Salem State Scuba Club and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2023-02-13)
    Life is being challenged as never before by humanity's rapid and profound reorganization of Earth's ecosystem.  This talk features stories of shock and hope that bear on life's capacity to restore, while we are still on this planet, what our species has thrown into chaos. Dr. Kaufman studies the creation, maintenance, and destruction of biological diversity, and humanity's shifting role in the biosphere that supports us.
  • Impacts of Climate Change. They have only just begun.

    Young, Stephen; Geography and Sustainability Department, the Salem State University Earth Days Planning Committee and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2023-02-14)
    Each year we are seeing more and more impacts from climate change. Dr. Young’s presentation will explain why we are seeing these impacts and what we can expect in the future. Dr. Young will also discuss his recent research about climate change in New England and will end the talk highlighting climate change education and activities by Salem State University students.
  • From so simple a beginning: the Darwin Festival at 44

    Case, Susan; Biology Department and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2023-02-13)
    “From so simple a beginning…” traces the origin and development of Salem State’s Darwin Festival over 44 years, by examining the role of mentors, networking, technology and unexpected contingencies, both in Darwin’s life and in the Festival.
  • Founder's Lecture: The Role of Restoration in Preserving Plant Biodiversity

    Zahawi, Rakan; Biology Department and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2022-02-08)
    Dr. Zahawi will present results on a long-term restoration study (>15 years) in southern Costa Rica assessing the effect of different restoration treatments on recovery processes. He will also provide a brief overview of the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos, and will highlight a few of their core research programs.
  • Microaggressions: What’s the Harm? Examining the Impact of Microaggressions and Racism on Health

    Torres-Harding, Susan; Academic Affairs (2022-02-10)
    Microaggressions are forms of subtle, everyday discrimination that can negatively impact people from disempowered social groups in the US. In her talk, Dr. Torres-Harding will describe and define microaggressions, discuss the cognitive and physiological pathways through which microaggressions may impact health status, and discuss how they may contribute to existing racial health disparities in the US.
  • Genomic Evolution and Adaptation in Africa

    Tishkoff, Sarah; Biology Department and the College of Arts and Sciences (2022-02-10)
    Dr. Tishkoff studies genomic and phenotypic variation in ethnically diverse Africans. She will present research that combines field work, laboratory research, and computational methods to examine African population history, the genetic basis of anthropometric, cardiovascular, and immune related traits, and how humans have adapted to diverse environments and diets.
  • Natural History as an Inspiration for New Technologies - Bio Inspired Design from the Sea

    Summers, Adam; Biology Department and the Charles Albert Read Trust (2022-02-07)
    Using his background in engineering and mathematics, Dr. Summers will discuss the properties of natural materials and their roles in form and function in marine animals.
  • Big Data for Biodiversity

    Pelletier, Tara; Biology Department and ThermoFisher Scientific (2022-02-11)
    Dr. Pelletier will demonstrate how "big data” can be used to understand the historical processes that shape current biodiversity patterns and be used to make predictions for conservation purposes. These data are compiled using computational methods that integrate species occurrences with genetic and/or climatological data on a large scale.

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