2013 Darwin Day Examined Sex and the 'Scala Naturae'

In 2013, are males and females truly seen as equals?

Not according to this year's Darwin Day speaker and renowned evolutionary ecologist Dr. Marlene Zuk.

Zuk presented Sex and the Scala Naturae as the 2013 Darwin Day lecture on Thursday, Feb. 14. The event attracted an audience of more than 500.

"What makes this all the more remarkable was that we had the event scheduled on Valentine's Day," said Dr. David Seybert, dean of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. "Some of us had to endure some questions and comments from friends, relatives and spouses about our priorities on Valentine's Day."

Zuk, from the University of Minnesota's Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, is a noted researcher in the areas of behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology. She is also recognized for her commitments to the causes of science education and scientific literacy.

The author of engaging books that reveal the marvels of evolution and animal behavior, Zuk's works are noted for their wit and clarity. Among her writings is the popular book Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn About Sex from Animals.

Darwin Day 2013 was also coupled with a reception for Bayer School alumni.

"Dr. Zuk graciously spent quite a bit of time with our alumni at the reception, greeting each of them individually and sharing some additional insights of her talk," Seybert explained.

According to Michael Seaman, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and event organizer, Zuk's talk received substantial attention in the local media, including an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and radio interviews on WESA and KQV.

Afterwards, Zuk, in an e-mail to Dr. Seaman, said, "I had a great time and am really impressed with your department and its faculty and students."

You can watch Zuk's Darwin Day talk by clicking here.

Darwin Day, an annual celebration of the life and work of Charles Darwin and an opportunity to emphasize the importance of quality science education in today's world, is sponsored by the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences with additional assistance in 2013 from the Women's and Gender Studies Program.

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