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Honors Colloquium

Fall 2008 Honors Colloquium

Stanford marine ecologist to examine how humans affect evolution in URI Honors Colloquium lecture, Oct. 14

Steve PalumbiStanford University professor Stephen Palumbi, author of The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change, is the next speaker in the University of Rhode Island’s annual fall Honors Colloquium.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on URI’s Kingston Campus.

The 2008 Honors Colloquium, “People and Planet: Global Environmental Change,” explores human-caused global change, its consequences and potential responses through a series of lectures, films, exhibits and a cabaret. Weekly events run through Dec. 9.

In his lecture, entitled “Impact of Global Environmental Change on Evolution,” Palumbi will discuss how rapid evolution is central to the emerging problems being faced by modern society.

In his book, The Evolution Explosion, Palumbi notes that genetic tinkering by humans is “accelerating the evolutionary game, especially among the species that live with us most intimately,” like the food we eat, the pests that share that food, and the diseases they transmit. The New York Times wrote that Palumbi “does an excellent job of showing how man-made evolution is not only real but relevant.” And according to Booklist, Palumbi’s “enlightening discussions of the evolution of HIV, the ecological dangers posed by precipitous bioengineering, and such remarkable evolutionary phenomena as the changes in size and spawning strategies of fish in overfished regions give weight and urgency to his call for evolution literacy.”

Palumbi studies the genetics and evolution of a wide range of marine organisms, from sea urchins and corals to whales and butterflyfish. He also applies molecular genetic techniques to marine conservation, including the identification of whale and dolphin products found in commercial markets.

In addition to his research and writing, Palumbi appeared in the television series “The Future is Wild,” a computer-animated exploration of the possible courses of evolution in the next few hundred million years.


Major Sponsor:

The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation

Sustaining Sponsors:

URI Office of the President; URI Honors Program; The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment; The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment.

Leadership Sponsors:

URI Graduate School of Oceanography and URI College of Arts and Sciences.


Environmental Data Center, URI Department of Natural Resources Science; R.I. Center for the Book at Providence Public Library; R.I. Office of Library and Information Services; R.I. Sea Grant College Program; U.S. E.P.A. Office of Research and Development, Atlantic Ecology Division; URI Classroom Media Services; URI Coastal Institute; URI College of Business Administration; URI College of Engineering; URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences; URI College of Human Science and Services; URI College of Nursing; URI College of Pharmacy; URI Division of Student Affairs; URI Division of University Advancement and the URI Alumni Association; URI Foundation; URI Office of the Provost; URI Office of the Vice President for Administration; URI Office of the Vice Provost for Information Technology Services; URI University College.

Colloquium Coordinators:

Professor Steven D'Hondt, Graduate School of Oceanography;
Professor Arthur Spivack, Graduate School of Oceanography;
Professor Judith Swift, Theatre and Communication Studies.

For information about ways to support the Honors Colloquium, contact Tom Zorabedian at 401-874-2853 or