This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Jodi Schwartz (left) and Jenny Wilson-Cohen '09. Photo credit: John Rizzo

The Campus Celebrates “Darwin Days”

On February 12 and 13, Vassar marks Charles Darwin's 200th Birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin Of Species. This multi-disciplinary celebration will have visual presentations, talks given by members of the Vassar community, hands-on activities, and to finish the celebration, dramatic readings adapted from the play Inherit the Wind, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Lois Horst ’04, who curates Vassar’s A. Scott Warthin Museum of Geology and Natural History, explains, “In order to celebrate these significant Darwin anniversaries in 2009, many of the academic departments at Vassar came together and arranged a series of free events. In addition to the presentations, there will be a special Darwin-themed exhibition in the museum, located in Ely Hall.”

Jodi Schwartz, an assistant professor of biology who was also instrumental in this campus-wide celebration of Darwin, says, “Our celebration is very interdisciplinary as Darwin's influence is far-reaching and more than just biology. I hope ‘Darwin Days’ broadens the communication between the science and non-science communities at Vassar, with the socio-cultural aspect of the programs. It should be a great learning experience for everyone.” One of Schwartz’s students, Jenny Wilson-Cohen, a senior majoring in neuroscience, designed an original computer game, “Evolution Simulation,” which will be demonstrated during the mornings of the “Darwin Day” events. “The game simulates the evolution of a species over generations, representing Darwin’s ideas about change over time. Evolution affects everything.”

The Vassar departments that will participate in the Darwin events include anthropology, biology, computing and information services, drama and film, earth science and geography, French, and psychology.

February 2009

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