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Syracuse Symposium and Inaugural Kameshwar C. Wali Lecture present noted evolutionist Lynn Margulis Sept. 25
Syracuse Symposium and Inaugural Kameshwar C. Wali Lecture present noted evolutionist Lynn Margulis Sept. 25September 04, 2008Rob Enslinrmenslin@syr.edu
“Migration” is the underlying theme of a keynote address at Syracuse University by renowned evolutionist and author Lynn Margulis H’08. Titled “Evolution and Symbiosis: Memoirs of Planet Earth,” Margulis’ lecture is Thursday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons of E.S. Bird Library. The event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the 2008 Syracuse Symposium and The Inaugural Kameshwar C. Wali Lecture in the Sciences and Humanities. For more information, call (315) 443-1995.
“It is an honor and a privilege to reunite with Lynn Margulis,” says Arts and Sciences Dean George M. Langford, who previously worked with her at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “Throughout her illustrious career, she has tackled some of the most profound questions in biology and, for that matter, in all of humanity. She is a public intellectual, a writer and a scientist who continues to make major contributions to our understanding of the origin of life.”
A Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at UMass, Margulis was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983 and to the Russian Academy of Natural Science in 1997. Her publications reflect a wide range of scientific topics and include original contributions to micro and cell biology, and to microbial evolution. She is most widely known as the originator of the theory of symbiogenesis, which challenges a central tenet of neo-Darwinism. Margulis argues that inherited variation does not come mainly from random mutations but rather that new tissues, organs and species evolve primarily through the long-lasting intimacy of strangers. She suggests that fusion of symbionts (organisms of different species), followed by natural selection, leads to increasingly complex levels of individuality.
“Although her first paper on symbiogenesis was published in the ’60s, it created fireworks that lasted for several decades. Many scientists-notably Richard Dawkins, who is not a symbiogenesis ally-consider her research one of the crowning achievements of 20th-century evolutionary biology,” says Kameshwar C. Wali, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in SU’s physics department.
Margulis is also acknowledged for her contributions to James E. Lovelock’s Gaia concept. Gaia theory posits that surface interactions among the Earth’s living beings and its sediment, air and water have created a vast self-regulating system.
A recent president of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, Margulis has received numerous honors, including the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton in 1999 and the Linnean Society’s Darwin-Wallace Medal for “major advances in evolutionary biology since 1958.” Margulis earned a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, and was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree by SU in 2008. The Library of Congress has announced it will permanently archive her papers.
Wali, the lecture’s namesake, is internationally recognized for his scholarship in the symmetry properties of fundamental particles and their interactions, and for his book “Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar,” about the renowned Nobel laureate physicist. A member of the SU faculty since 1969, Wali has held positions at Harvard University, The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Ben-Gurion University of Negev (Israel), Institutes des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (France) and the International Center for Theoretical Physics (Italy). He has been named “Scientist of the Year” by the India Chapter of the American Physical Society, and has received the SU Chancellor’s Citation for exceptional academic achievement. The Wali Lecture was established by his daughters, Alaka, Achala and Monona, with help from The College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost, as an expression of their admiration and gratitude for his vision, leadership and dedication to SU and the community.
Syracuse Symposium is a semester-long intellectual and artistic festival about interdisciplinary thinking, imagining, and creating, presented by The College of Arts and Sciences for the Syracuse community. More information on lectures, performances, exhibits and other special events is available at http://syracusesymposium.org.