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Darwin Day Highlights Evolution Education

This year, graduate students hosted Darwin Day UT, a series of events on campus to promote awareness of the importance of evolution to the study of biology and scientific research at UT and other institutions. Charles Darwin was born February 12, 1809. He is a critical figure in the history of evolutionary biology and during the week of his birthday, graduate students in the UT Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology celebrate his contributions to science.

Events throughout the week included Evolution Trivia, a graduate student research panel discussion, Darwin’s birthday party full of family fun in conjunction with the McClung Museum, and more. Students and faculty on campus may have also seen the large Darwin puppet mascot on the pedestrian walkway handing out flyers and prizes. These events were led by graduate students in the ecology and evolutionary biology department including Hope Ferguson, Wieteke Holthuijzen, Tara Empson, Nicole Lussier, Lauren Lyon, and Krista De Cooke. More than 300 people attended events throughout the week. 

“Understanding evolution is key to understanding our world. For over two decades, Darwin Day at UT has been a fun, inclusive way to educate people about the topic,” said Dr. Brian O’Meara, faculty advisor for Darwin Day.

The tradition of Darwin Day celebrations at UT go back to 1997. UT prides itself on being among the most active institutions in celebrating and promoting evolution education, which is possible with support from several units at UT.

“Darwin Day has historically been an interdepartmental event with generous donations, volunteers, and coordinators from other UT departments. It’s been great working with colleagues across the campus to think of innovative activities, especially during the pandemic,” said Krista De Cooke, Darwin Day President 2020-2022. 

Story by Sarah Berry