What Darwin Didn’t Know
Hopi Hoekstra is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Curator of Mammals in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. She became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2013, and in 2016, she was elected into the National Academy of Sciences.
Hoekstra is an evolutionary geneticist who studies the molecular basis of adaptation in deer mice. Her research focuses on understanding how variation is generated and maintained in natural populations. In particular, she is interested in understanding both the proximate (molecular, genetic and developmental mechanisms) and ultimate (timing, strength and agent of selection) causes of evolutionary change. Thus, much of her research focuses on identifying and characterizing the molecular changes responsible for traits that affect fitness of organisms in the wild, in which ecological, developmental and genomic information can be combined to address questions about the evolution of morphological, behavioral and reproductive diversity.
Darwin Day is supported by the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the Living World Lecture Series of Science Open Nights.
Abstract: When Darwin articulated his grand theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859, he was still missing one crucial piece: while he recognized that offspring resembled their parents, he didn’t know how this information was transmitted from one generation to the next. In the last 150 years, not only has DNA been discovered as the carrier of genetic information, but we are increasingly able to link specific genes to the traits that they encode. Now we can study how traits evolve — as Darwin did — but also find evidence for evolution at a once unimaginable level: in DNA, genes and genomes. This presentation will explore Hoekstra’s work studying evolution in action — by combining experiments in both the lab and the field — linking genes to traits and ultimately to survival.
This Provost’s Lecture will be held on Friday, February 10, at 7:30 pm in the Earth and Space Sciences Lecture Theater 001. All are welcome.