University will celebrate its first Darwin Day

Grand Valley will celebrate its first Darwin Day February 11-12; abstracts for presentations and an art exhibit are being accepted.
Grand Valley will celebrate its first Darwin Day February 11-12; abstracts for presentations and an art exhibit are being accepted.

Grand Valley will celebrate its first Darwin Day February 11-12 with two days of events, including a keynote presentation, art exhibit, fun events, faculty and student presentations.

Students and faculty members from all disciplines are invited to submit abstracts for presentations or for the art exhibit. The deadline to submit an abstract is January 15.

Cara Ocobock, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, broached the idea to host a campus-wide event celebrating Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution last spring.

"I'm an anthropologist so evolution is constantly in my studies," Ocobock said. "Internationally, Darwin Day events have been held for years, and I thought, 'Why not here, too?'"

From the start, Grand Valley's Darwin Day was intentionally interdisciplinary in nature. Ocobock said Darwin's theory of evolution touches everyday life in many ways, through language, art and health, for example. Ocobock cited annual flu vaccines and said the reason people need a new vaccine each year is because the flu strains change and evolve.

The keynote speaker is Wenda Trevathan, professor emerita of anthropology at New Mexico State University. She is a co-editor of two collections of works on evolutionary medicine and wrote Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health.

Sponsors of Darwin Day are many student organizations and campus departments, including Biomedical Sciences, Movement Science, Psychology, Geology, Physics, Art and Design, and University Libraries, among others.