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Time Travel in Experimental Evolution Focus of 2014 Darwin Day

An experiment-25-years in the making-will be the focus of the 2014 Darwin Day lecture at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, in the  Duquesne University Power Center Ballroom.

Darwin Day speaker and evolutionary biologist Dr. Richard E. Lenski, a Hannah Distinguished professor at Michigan State University, will present Time Travel in Experimental Evolution. The lecture will discuss how his laboratory propagated 12 populations of Escherichia coli in a simple environment for 25 years and more than 50,000 generations.

"People who don't understand evolution often comment that you can't see evolution happening," said Dr. David Lampe, associate professor of biology and Darwin Day organizer.  "Dr. Lenski's experiments have produced one of the best real-time evolution data sets in existence. He can see evolution at work in real time and, coupled with the ability to freeze and revive organisms, he can also travel back in time, which is unique."

Two goals of Lenski's long-term experiment have been to examine the repeatability of evolution and to characterize the dynamics of evolution. He has quantified the extent of adaptation by natural selection, identified many examples of parallel evolution and observed the origin of a novel function that transcends the usual definition of E. coli as a species.

Darwin Day, an annual international celebration of the life and work of Charles Darwin, is sponsored by Duquesne's Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. The event emphasizes the importance of science education in today's modern world, and the impact evolutionary biology has on many aspects of our lives.

For more information about Darwin Day 2014, visit the website, www.duq.edu/darwinday, or contact darwin2014@duq.edu. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.