Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Southern Connecticut’s Darwin Day Dinner features Yale professor as speaker

NEW HAVEN - City resident Paul Turner, associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, will be the featured speaker at Southern Connecticut’s Darwin Day Dinner on  Feb. 11.
Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around Feb. 12, the day on which Charles Darwin was born in 1809, according to a statement.

"Specifically, the event celebrates the discoveries and life of the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity," the statement said.
Turner's talk, entitled “Viruses - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” puts "into entertaining terms new information on the evolution of viruses and what it means for us," the statement said.
"Viruses are the majority of Earth's inhabitants, feared for their ability to cause deadly - downright ugly – epidemics.” Turner said in the statement. “But despite conventional wisdom, very few viruses make us sick. In fact, past and present virus infections are essential for human well-being and the maintenance of healthy ecosystems, and in the future a virus may even save your life."
The Darwin Day Dinner is an eventful evening with cocktail hour, full course dinner, fascinating conversation, science quiz, and capped with the talk by Turner, the statement said.
See www.darwindayCT.org for info on the event and how to reserve a place. Additional Darwin Day events are happening globally, see: darwinday.org.

Turner, shown in the photo, runs the Turner Lab at Yale, which uses RNA viruses, DNA viruses, and bacteria as model systems to test evolutionary and ecological theory, especially questions regarding the evolution of genetic exchange (sex), virus ecology and evolution, host-parasite interactions, and the evolution of infectious disease, the statement said.
Turner holds a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Rochester, a doctorate in Microbial Evolution from Michigan State University, and did postdoctoral work at University of Maryland, University of Valencia and National Institutes of Health, the statement said.

Turner regularly lectures at national and international venues such as the Graduate Research School in Genomic Ecology (GENECO, Lund University, Sweden), and in the Workshop on Molecular Evolution USA (Marine Biology Labs, Woods Hole, MA) and Europe (Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic). He instructs K-12 teachers in the Yale National Initiative and the Yale-New Haven Teacher’s Institute, with the goal to help teachers develop new curricula in Evolutionary Medicine, the statement said.

Last year’s event was sold out, so reserve soon. Send name, address, e-mail address, phone, names of attendees, dinner choices, and $55 per person ($60 after Feb. 1) to CT Darwin Day Committee, 249 Chestnut Hill Road, Norwalk, 06851.
Meal choices are New York angus sirloin, chicken marsala, pan seared salmon, and eggplant parmigiana, the statement said.

For more information on Turner, visit http://www.yale.edu/turner/home/index.htm

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