Evolutionary Studies Club to Host Conference Feb. 12-14

Darwin Day, an annual event hosted by The University of Alabama’s Evolutionary Studies Club, has evolved into the Southeastern Evolutionary Perspectives Society, or SEEPS, conference, which will be held Feb. 12–14 in room 227 of Lloyd Hall on the UA campus.

The conference will have interdisciplinary speakers, a banquet, and a keynote lecture given by evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Dean Falk, the Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University. Admission is $20 for undergraduates and $50 for graduate students and professionals. Students in grades K-12 will be admitted for free.

Dr. Christopher Lynn, an associate professor of anthropology at UA, directs the evolutionary studies program and helped to coordinate the event. According to Lynn, the conference is an opportunity to generate discussion, promote evolutionary perspectives to students, help teachers who may be struggling to teach it, and bring public visibility to the topic.

“We want students to feel less threatened by evolution as a process and perceive it as a lens to better understand life,” Lynn said.

The keynote lecture for the conference will be presented on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. following a banquet at 7. Falk’s talk, “The Evolution of Asperger Syndrome: A Cross-disciplinary Perspective,” will focus on the evolution of Asperger’s, discussing its lesser-known genetic benefit.

Falk teaches part-time in Tallahassee, Florida, and part-time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is a senior scholar at the School for Advanced Research. She has written books on the evolution of language, specifically how mothers talk to their children, and brain evolution.

Lynn is excited to have such a strong female scientist speak at the conference.

“I like that she steps away from the conservative biological or anthropological model and addresses the really big questions,” he said.

Approximately 63 speakers are registered from across the Southeast. Alongside presentations by university and professional scholars, the agenda includes presentations by an Alabama high-school teacher and high-school students.

“We’re trying to appeal to the lack of institutionalized support for evolution studies,” Lynn said. “We’re trying to develop a hub where we can say, ‘Your community may not support it, but we do.’”

Registration closes Feb. 9.