First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, a Member Church of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and More Light Presbyterians

Seminar: Evolution Sunday, February 11, 2018

Evolution Sunday, February 11, at 11:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We will welcome two presenters from the University of Illinois.

Sam Beshers got his BA at Swarthmore College and a PhD in Biology from Boston University. He is currently Research Associate in the Department of Entomology and Coordinator of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UIUC. He studies the organization and design of biological systems, with a particular focus on division of labor in ants. As a result, he views nearly everything from the perspective of an ant colony. He is also a member of the Unitarian Universalist church in Urbana, sings in the choir, and chairs the Worship Committee.

The title of his presentation is “Go to the ant, thou sluggard.” Ant colonies are fascinating in themselves, and also great systems for studying biological organization and behavior. Dr. Beshers will give a brief overview of the organization and division of labor in ant colonies, and use this as background to support profound insights into evolution and the human condition.

Becky Fuller received her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, studied in Sweden as a Fulbright scholar, and obtained graduate degrees from Michigan State University (M.S.) and Florida State University (Ph.D.). She joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in the Department of Animal Biology in 2005. She is an evolutionary biologist who studies fish. Her lab works on many projects related to speciation, adaptation, and the evolution of sensory systems and signals.

The tile of her presentation is “Common Misconceptions Surrounding Evolution.” Evolution via natural selection is a deceptively simple idea. Natural selection favors traits that increase survival and/or reproduction. Yet, this pithy one sentence summary glosses over many important questions. Can individuals evolve within a single lifetime? What changes: individuals or populations or species? Is genetic variation good? Are mutations bad? Most importantly, does natural selection predict ‘perfection’? In this talk, Dr. Fuller will discuss these common misconceptions and their applications to human society.