Evolution of Infectious Consumers and the Integrated Control of Schistosomiasis 12/3

Human schistosomiasis affects about 200-300 million people worldwide, with chronic morbidity and substantial mortality. Join evolutionary biologist Dr. Armand Kuris as he discusses the breakdown of coevolution and thresholds of transmission controls of public health mitigation of such diseases and shares his work in Kenya and Senegal, where his team has shown that transmission control through predation on the snail intermediate hosts may be necessary to achieve elimination of human schistosomiasis in Africa.

Dr. Kuris is the Charles Storke II Chair in Ecology and Professor of Zoology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Junior Class Dinner with Professor Richard Adelstein

The Dean’s Office will be hosting a Typhoon-catered dinner for members of the Class of 2020 with Professor Richard Adelstein (Economics and the College of Social Studies) on Thursday, November 8, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Daniel Family Commons.  As Professor Adelstein writes in his faculty bio:

My teaching and scholarly interests lie at the intersection of economics, law, history and philosophy. More particularly, I’m interested in the historical development of social institutions like markets, firms and common law and the problem of how social order is created and maintained in various environments and changes as those environments change.

I was not a successful undergraduate, and left MIT in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in history and engineering. I earned a master’s degree in teaching and, in 1970-71, taught junior-high level history at two Massachusetts state prisons. This drew me to a career in corrections, and I set out to become a lawyer, so I could become a prison warden. But upon entering law school, I was given a chance to get a PhD in economics as well, and began study of both these subjects for the first time. So I was an interdisciplinarian from the start, and received both a JD and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. A one-year job at Wesleyan was the only offer I received, and I’ve been here ever since. Teaching only very talented and critically minded undergraduates, I’ve been able to develop these interdisciplinary interests across a range of fields and in pursuit of a more or less constant fascination with the evolution of similar or cognate social institutions across different environments, time and cultures.

If you would like to attend this dinner with Professor Adelstein, please RSVP through this link.  Seating is limited to the first 30 students who RSVP.  You will be notified if there will not be enough room for you to attend.

Weseminar: Natural History Collections in the Liberal Arts Education 9/29

Weseminar: Natural History Collections in the Liberal Arts Education
Saturday, September 29th | ESC058

In the Methodist tradition, Wesleyan sought to put natural sciences on an equal footing to the classics in its early days. In 1871, the Wesleyan Museum opened in Judd Hall, with large and varied collections organized as the curiosity cabinets typical of the times. With the rising importance of laboratory sciences, interest in the museum declined and it was closed in 1957. Specimens were donated, loaned, or stored in tunnels under Foss Hill. By the 1970s, during evaluation for a move to Exley, collections were found to be severely vandalized. Numerous remaining specimens were secured but not curated, and largely forgotten. In 2017, we started to bring specimens out of storage to curate for exhibition and use in object-based learning. Our first efforts placed a life-sized model of Glyptodon (giant extinct armadillo) in the lobby of Exley. We aim to make these historical collections a focus of integrated student investigation, combining biology, paleontology, history of science, archaeology and the arts in campus wide exhibits.

Ellen Thomas is the Smith Curator of Paleontology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History, the Harold T Stearns Professor of Integrated Sciences, and Research Professor in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her research interests are focused on reconstructions of past oceanic environments and ecosystems.

Ann C. Burke is Professor and Chair of the Biology Department. Her research interests are in the development and evolution of vertebrates, and the developmental sources of morphological variation.

“Natural History in the Age of Humans” 3/1

Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and formerly first curator of the Wesleyan museum, will be speaking on “Natural History in the Age of Humans” in Shanklin 107 on March 1st from 7:30-8:30pm, followed by a catered reception at Woodhead Lounge (Exley 184).

“Natural history museums represent a fundamental tool to understand and preserve Earth’s natural and cultural heritage. The public perception of museums as educational experiences masks their deeper value to human society as the creators and keepers of our knowledge of the natural and cultural world. With a rapidly growing world population, food insecurity, infectious diseases, and invasive species are problems that may find their solution in the genomics of biodiversity housed in museum collections. Minerals, meteorites, and fossils are the physical evidence of the planet’s history, climate, biological evolution, and resource base. In an increasingly digital era, museums are one of the last bastions of the real thing. “