Centre for Ecology and Evolution

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Darwin's Birthday Party Debate

CEE celebrates Charles Darwin's Birthday with a debate around a topical scientific subject each year. Eminent speakers each present their case leading to a general discussion on the topic. Although this can get quite heated, we always make up at a wine reception afterwards!

Darwin's Birthday Party, a brief history Jim Mallet and Sandra Knapp

Date Event
1809 Charles Robert Darwin born 12 February
1992 The "London Evolution Group", forerunner of the CEE, founded. Evolutionary biologists were felt to be scattered across the London area, and should get to know each other better. And have more parties.
1993 We had a Darwin's Birthday Party at our house.
About here, the Evolution Special Interest Group of the Linnean Society is founded.
1994 Derek Briggs & Simon Conway Morris on "Evolution in the Cambrian: Biology's big Bang? Or just a damp squib?" The Linnean Society of London, Piccadilly. Both agree that Steven Jay Gould misinterpreted their work.
About here, the CEE is founded. Originally to keep Robin Dunbar from leaving UCL for Liverpool. Robin Dunbar goes to Liverpool anyway, money remains; Linda Partridge arrives, becomes director of the CEE.
1995 John Maynard Smith & Stuart Kauffman on "Is life at the edge of chaos?" The Linnean Society of London, Piccadilly. Friendly disagreement. John Maddox, the editor of "Nature", writes leading article "Polite Row about Models...". The Santa Fé Institute also has a write-up about this, "The Great Complexity Debate".
1996 Russ Lande & Steve O'Brien on: "Conservation genetics: is it useful?" The Linnean Society of London, Piccadilly. Speakers disagree
1997 Mild problems with The Linnean Society of London, Piccadilly, and anyway we couldn't think of a subject. We just had a party at our house.
1998 Jim Lake & Tom Cavalier Smith: "The Tree of Life." First DBP to be held at The Natural History Museum.
1999 Jim Patton& Steve Hubbell: "Why are there so many species in the tropics?" The Natural History Museum.  Steve Hubbell later (2001) publishes "The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography.  Princeton University Press.
2000 Peter Holland & Enrico Coen: "Evolution and Development." The Natural History Museum.
2001 Michael Foote & Blair Hedges: "The Phylogenetic Fuse." The Natural History Museum. Organised by Mike Coates and Sandra Knapp. Over supper, Blair Hedges is hit on the head with a toy hammer by supporter of Michael Foote.
2002 Camille Parmesan & Brian Huntley. "Evolution and Ecology of Climate Change: Past, Present and Future." The Natural History Museum.
2003 Chris Stringer and Mark Stoneking. "Origin of  our species."  The Natural History Museum
2004 Nick Barton and Mohamed Noor.  "Species and the origins of biodiversity."  The Natural History Museum.
2005 Michael Lynch and Michael Ashburner.  "Evolution: the genomic view."  The Natural History Museum.
2006 Geoff West and Sean Nee. "Do general laws explain ecology and evolution?"  The Natural History Museum.
2007 Jeremy Jackson and Steve Palumbi. "The past, present and future of evolution under the sea"  The Natural History Museum.
2008 David Stern and Brian Charlesworth. "Natura non facit saltum.  Or does it?"  The Natural History Museum.
2009 Rob Barton & Robin Dunbar “Organs of extreme perfection and complication: how brains evolved” NHM

Sandy Knapp (standing in for Georgina Mace) & Bill Adams “Biodiversity 2010: are we locked on target?” NHM

2011 Gavin Naylor & Janine Caira “Do hosts determine the distribution of parasites in the oceans?” NHM
2012 David Gems & Daryl Shanley “How aging evolves” NHM
2013 Detlev Arendt & Hervé Philippe “ 25 years since Field et al. – will the real Urbilateria please stand up?” NHM

Laurent Lehmann & David Haig “rb>c@50 - The Golden Anniversary of Hamilton's Rule” NHM – held on Darwin’s actual birthday!!

W. D. Hamilton revolutionised our understanding of social evolution with his back-to-back 1964 papers "The Genetical Evolution of Social Behaviour I and II", written whilst a PhD student at The Galton Laboratory, University College London. This year we celebrate this enduring intellectual achievement at the CEE's annual Darwin's Birthday Debate

Page last modified on 26 nov 13 16:36