University of California Museum of Paleontology UCMP in the field See the world (and its fossils) with UCMP's field notes.
About UCMP People Blog Online Exhibits Public programs Education Collections Research
About UCMP : Public programs at UCMP

Think Evolution: A summer institute for science educators

Sponsored by UCMP, the National Center for Science Education, and the Beacon Center for the Study of Evolution in Action
Think Evolution III: A summer institute for science educators

Calling all middle school, high school, and community college biology teachers and science educators!

Put on your evolution eyeglasses and your nature of science thinking cap and join us for (yet another) fun-filled five days of evolutionary explorations with biologists and educators at the University of California. The Think Evolution Summer Institute, returning for its third year, will combine lectures by prominent evolutionary biologists with sessions focused on hands-on activities for the middle school, high school, and community college classroom. Topics this year to include: Evolution and Climate Change, Island Biogeography, Epigenetics, Ecological and Evolutionary Speciation and Genetics, Sexual Selection, and Primate Evolution.

Monday through Friday, August 1–5, 2011
UC Museum of Paleontology, Valley Life Sciences Building, UC Berkeley
9:00 am to 3:00 pm

$75.00 for five days; includes lots of free resources distributed to participating teachers plus morning and afternoon snacks.

** The program is FULL and REGISTRATION IS CLOSED as of May 31, 2011 **

Institute schedule

Monday, August 1
8:15-8:30 am Registration
8:30-9:00 Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Introductions and logistics
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Charles Marshall, Director of the UC Museum of Paleontology
Gauging future response of ecosystems to climate change
How can we gauge the future response of the biosphere to climate change? Using data from how ecosystems have responded to past perturbations, Marshall will explore whether we are in a sixth mass extinction, whether the globe has previously experienced climate change at similar rates and magnitudes to those being predicted for the near future, and what we can learn from past responses to understand future response.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Rosie Gillespie, Director of the Essig Museum of Entomology
Lots from little: Explosions of species on isolated islands
Remote islands are heralded as "natural laboratories" in which thousands of species have evolved as a result of adaptive radiation. Gillespie has been examining how species get to these remote islands, and what causes them to then diversify explosively into multiple species that are vastly different from their mainland counterparts. The talk will focus on: (1) Patterns of diversification and species accumulation within an adaptive radiation. (2) Genetic modification during colonization of new land masses. Gillespie will highlight the interplay between selection and the dynamic environment in the evolution of species within a given island, and the nature and timing of species accumulation.
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Focusing on Natural Selection
With Jen Skene and Louise Mead
Tuesday, August 2
8:30-9:00 am Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Warm-up activity with Judy Scotchmoor
9:30-10:45 A conversation with David Reznick, Professor of Biology, UC Riverside
The evolution of evolution: Darwin then and now
In writing his now famous book, Darwin's intent was that The Origin of Species was indeed about the origin of species. There were concepts of species before Darwin and our ideas continue to change. After the Origin, the theory of evolution continued to evolve, as did our understanding of what a species is. In this talk, Resnick describes our evolving understanding of the meaning of "species" and the process of speciation.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with David Reznick
Part II: The reproduction of guppies and evolution by natural selection
Natural populations of guppies are found in high and low predation environments. In high predation environments, guppies sustain higher mortality rates than in low predation environments. The theory of life history evolution predicts that high mortality rates select for earlier maturity and a higher rate of investment in reproduction. Guppies from Trinidad have enabled me to study the process of evolution by natural selection and to experimentally test facets of evolutionary theory in natural populations.
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Focusing on natural selection
Hands-on activities with Judy Scotchmoor and Louise Mead
Wednesday, August 3
8:30-9:00 am Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Warm-up activity with Judy Scotchmoor
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Han Lim, Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley
Epigenetic control: Betting your life on games of chance
This talk begins with a clarification of the term epigenetics and the mechanisms involved, examining how environmental factors can alter the way our genes are expressed. Lim then explores the effect of combining randomness and epigenetics factors, discusses the practical importance, and then shares four remarkable examples of epigenetic inheritance in mammals.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Rick Grosberg, Professor of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis
Family values: Lessons from the rest of life
Everyone knows that families are a ubiquitous and especially annoying arena where conflicts of interest arise between males and females, parents and offspring, and siblings. Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters may often die for each other, but given the right circumstances, they will also kill each other. What are the rules that govern whether individuals should harm or help each other? In this talk, I present the basic evolutionary foundations for answering this question, and then explore how other organisms (not humans) behave toward their mates, their parents, and their siblings. And then there's us ….
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Evolution in action
HHMI and Louise Mead
Thursday, August 4
8:30-9:00 am Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Warm-up activity with Judy Scotchmoor
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Kimberly Bostwick, Curator of Birds and Mammals, Cornell University
Reconstructing the evolution of the unique wing instrument of the Club-winged Manakin (Aves)
This talk begins with an evolutionary puzzle by revealing the details of a unique anatomical and behavioral wonder: a small Andean bird, the Club-winged Manakin that creates resonant oscillations by rubbing together modified wing feathers to produce sounds for use in courtship displays. How might this extreme morphology and odd instrument have evolved? An examination of the closest living relatives and a reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the feathers, bones, behaviors and sounds may hold the answer.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Andy Sih, Professor of Integrative Ecology, Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis
Evolutionary behavioral ecology, three new layers added to the old optimality approach: Animal personalities, social skill and evolutionary mismatches associated with human-induced rapid environmental change
Over the last 40 years, a dominant theme in behavioral ecology has involved the use of the optimality approach to explain animal behaviors — predator-prey, mating and social behaviors. Although animal behaviorists do not usually think that animals (including humans) actually behave optimally, the notion is that natural selection has shaped behaviors that should be at least reasonably good at enhancing survival and reproductive success. After outlining this basic approach, Sih will briefly describe three new areas of excitement in behavioral ecology that emphasize not so optimal behavior: (1) the study of animal personalities; (2) the study of variation among individuals in their behavioral skill, in particular, their social skill; and (3) the study of variation among individuals in their ability to cope with novel situations associated with the fact that humans have changed environments for everything, including ourselves.
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-3:00 Evolution in the classroom
Judy Scotchmoor and Louise Mead
Friday, August 5
8:30-9:00 am Coffee and munchies
9:00-9:30 Warm-up activity with Judy Scotchmoor
9:30-10:45 A conversation with Leslea Hlusko, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley
The evolution in me, the evolution in you
Millions of years of evolution have resulted in who we are and how we vary. However, that evolution took place in numerous types of environments, all of which differ significantly from the one we experience in the United States today. The ramifications of our varied evolutionary histories span from race relations and modern medicine, to whether you order that latte with skim milk or soy. Understanding the evolutionary history of human variation, and why it often clusters by geography, affects how we perceive and place value on things like obesity, skin color, and lactose intolerance.
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00-12:15 A conversation with Steven Newton, Programs and Policy Director, National Center for Science Education
Teaching evolution in a climate of science denial
One hundred and fifty-two years after the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, evolution is not controversial among scientists — yet a diverse group of well-funded organizations relentlessly campaign to undermine the teaching of evolution, and to undercut students' understanding of the process of science. This talk will focus on how the many faces of creationism — young Earth, old Earth, intelligent design — have evolved in response to legal setbacks, and how modern creationists manipulate terms such as "academic freedom" to bring their anti-science agenda into the classroom.
12:15-1:00 Lunch with the scientists (bring your own lunch)
1:00-2:00 Sharing activities from the classroom
2:00 Closure and certificates

About the speakers

Kim Bostwick received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 2002, and since then has worked as the curator of birds and mammals at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. Her research focuses on avian behavior, wing morphology, and evolution of non-vocal acoustic signals in birds. Her research program has allowed Bostwick to travel all over Central and South America, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea to record audio and video of birds producing non-vocal sounds. In 2005 Bostwick was featured in Nature's three-part series, "Deep Jungles," in which she danced like a Red-capped Manakin to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean." This video clip was extracted and posted to YouTube where it went viral and has been viewed millions of times, spawned many knock-offs, and brought great fame and fans to an otherwise little known bird.

Rosemary G. Gillespie is a Professor in Environmental Science and Director of the Essig Museum of Entomology. She did her undergraduate degree in Zoology at Edinburgh, Scotland — her country of origin. She came to the U.S. to do her Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, after which she spent 13 years at the University of Hawaii before coming to Berkeley. She is currently President-elect of the International Biogeography Society and President of the American Arachnological Society. Her research uses islands to assess the combined temporal and spatial dimension of biogeography and determine patterns of species proliferation.

Rick Grosberg is a Professor of Evolution & Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis. He received his PH.D. from Yale University. He primarily studies marine invertebrates — including anemones, hydroids, sea squirts, and snails — and his approach involves field and lab experiments, molecular genetics, population genetics, and phylogenetics, plus a very modest amount of modelling. His research centers on "building an understanding of the behavioral, ecological, cellular, developmental, and genetic mechanisms that limit conflict and promote the evolution of cooperation." He was the recipient of the 2010 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement.

Leslea Hlusko is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in 2000. Her research investigates how genes influence skeletal variation and how that has evolved through time, with a special interest in understanding our own evolution. She teaches a large undergraduate course on human biological variation and spends a lot of time in East Africa looking for fossils of our ancestors as she co-directs a project at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.

Han Lim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. He received his medical degree from the University of Queensland in Australia and has a Ph.D. from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Cambridge. He was a post-doctoral fellow at MIT in the Department of Physics before joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2005. His current research explores the intersection of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors in pathways that control bacterial cell differentiation to better understand bacterial pathogenesis and to provide tools for the rational construction of synthetic circuits and genomes.

Charles R. Marshall arrived in Berkeley in 2010 to become a Professor in Integrative Biology and the Director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. A native Australian, Professor Marshall did his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and an NIH post-doc in evo-devo at Indiana University before serving eight years at UCLA and ten years as a Professor of Biology and Geology at Harvard University. He has pathologically broad interests, from the Cambrian explosion to understanding how biodiversity changes on geologic timescales. Most of his current work is centered on understanding how the fossil record can be used to inform our understanding of ecology and evolution.

Steven Newton is Programs and Policy Director with the National Center for Science Education, Inc., in Oakland, CA, an organization devoted to defending the teaching of evolution in public schools. His day-to-day work at the NCSE involves dealing directly with parents, teachers, and students who are grappling with outbreaks of creationism in public schools. When parents discover that their kid's high school biology teacher is using creationist materials, Newton is one of the people parents can turn to for help.

David Reznick (Ph.D., Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 1980) is a Professor of Biology at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Reznick was a research associate at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and the University of Maryland before joining the faculty at UC Riverside in 1984. He began his research career with the primary goal of testing facets of evolutionary theory with experiments performed on natural populations. His primary study organism is guppies and the home of most of his research is the Northern Range Mountains of Trinidad. He is also interested in the evolution of complex traits and has worked on the evolution of placentas in the fish family Poeciliidae (which includes guppies).

Andy Sih is a professor of Environmental Science & Policy at UC Davis. He is a past President and current Fellow of the international Animal Behavior Society, and an active contributor to the interface between ecology, evolution and behavior. His research focuses on the evolution of behaviors that have important effects on ecological interactions that explain why some individuals and some species do well, and others not so well in any given natural or human-altered environment. For the last decade, he has been one of the leaders in studying the ecological and evolutionary implications of "animal personalities" — the fact that even very "simple" organisms exhibit consistent individual differences in behavioral type, e.g., in boldness, aggressiveness or sociability. His latest interest is in working out why some animals "get it" and do well when faced with novel environments associated with humans (with human-induced rapid environmental change, HIREC), while others do not get it, and thus do not do well with us.

For more information, contact Louise S. Mead or Judy Scotchmoor.

University of California Museum of Paleontology National Center for Science Education Beacon Center for the Study of Evolution in Action