Science Lecture Video Bonanza


The Darwin/Chicago conference in Ida Noyes, October 2009

I’ve recently stumbled across two veritable smorgasbords of video content from events covered right here on ScienceLife. The first, the Darwin/Chicago conference that took place last October, had already yielded some video lecture bounty, but I’m pleased to report that the rest of the conference (with the exception of the opening night’s session) has been posted on the official website. I highly recommend:

Peter & Rosemary Grant – Whose accents are as delightful as their Galapagos Islands research, made famous by Jonathan Weiner’s The Beak of the Finch.

Eric Lander – The first author on the Nature paper that published the human genome and now a prominent scientific advisor to President Obama, Lander bridged Darwin and early genetics with our modern genomic era, while offering a primer on what can reasonably be expected from personalized medicine.

Richard Burkhardt – Darwin is known as the father of evolutionary biology, but the University of Illinois’ Burkhardt gave a convincing argument that he was also instrumental in establishing the field of animal behavior and behavioral ecology.

Eugenie Scott – The cultural/historical half of the conference was equally fascinating, including this talk by the executive director of the National Center for Science Education debunking Darwin myths (including his “deathbed confession”) propagated by creationists.

Michael Ruse – The funniest talk at a Darwin conference may sound like a backhanded compliment, but Ruse’s irreverent refutation of 2009’s trend of “Darwin was Wrong” articles is full of chuckles, while making a convincing argument for Darwin as skilled aggregator and communicator.

Hopi Hoekstra – Where many of the weekend’s lectures took the 30,000-foot view of Darwin and evolutionary biology, Harvard’s Hoekstra presented an elegant case study of evolution in motion with her field study of beach mice and coat color.

There’s also a long list of one-on-one interviews with the conference participants that I haven’t waded into yet.

The second treasure trove of science videos, linked in passing yesterday, is the library of lectures from last year’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics seminar series. Some of the most interesting conversations in science and medicine take place over ethical questions, an assertion this series proved again and again. On the blog, we covered transplant ethics in China, the disclosure of HIV test results in India, relief efforts in Indonesia and Haiti, the bright side of spiraling health care costs, the involvement of doctors in Guantanamo Bay interrogations, and the general challenges of global health programs at American medical centers.

Now, you can go beyond our analysis with videos of the actual lectures, made available by the University of Chicago’s Global Health Initiative. Despite the lure of free lunch, I couldn’t make it to all the lectures, so I look forward to catching up in advance of this year’s series starting next month (pdf schedule).

About Rob Mitchum (525 Articles)
Rob Mitchum is communications manager at the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
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