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The Making of the Fittest

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Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is still the mechanism we use to explain organismal adaptation, but the intervening 150 years since the publication of the Origin have led to many new discoveries that help us to document the precise basis of those adaptations – to see the steps of evolution. Chief among these is the sequence of an organism’s DNA , which contains a detailed record of its evolutionary history – a record of how the fittest are made. Dr. Carroll will explain how the adaptations of some amazing animals to various environments – the freezing waters of the Antarctic, lava flows, or the colorful jungle, are reflected in the DNA record of some marvelous creatures.


Sean Carroll is Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Carroll’s research has centered on those genes that control body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity. He is the author of the new book Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species (2009) and of The Making of the Fittest (2006) which won the Phi Beta Kappa 2007 Science Book Award and of Endless Forms Most Beautiful : The New Science of Evo Devo (2005), which was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Science and Technology) His first two books are the foundation for, and Dr. Carroll is the scientific consulting producer of, a new two-hour NOVA special being prepared for broadcast in 2009 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Dr. Carroll is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Biology Teachers, and numerous honorary lectureships. Dr. Carroll earned his B.A. in Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, his Ph.D. in Immunology at Tufts Medical School, and carried out his postdoctoral research with Dr. Matthew Scott at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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