Category Archives: Conferences

The Individual in the Genomic Era

The grad students in this department (CEEB) are organizing a public seminar series this spring about how genomic technology is developed and applied to issues in human health.
The series is targeted towards undergraduates and the rest of the Eugene & surrounding community.  Bill Cresko will open the series on April 5 and give a brief tutorial on how we acquire genomic information) and will then go on to explore how this information has changed the way we view our world, the history of hominid evolution, and how we think about medical care.

Lee Silver, from Princeton University, will talk on May 3 specifically about Personal Genomics, personalized medicine and genetic testing.

Carlos Bustamante, from Stanford University, will close the series on May 23 by speaking about how genome variation data has been used to identify the evolution of different traits in domesticated animals (specifically dogs) and how we can use that same type of technology to map migration of humans over the past several millennia as well as explore the genetic basis to physical differences among humans.

We realize most of our readers won’t be able to attend, but we are planning on podcasting & videotaping the lecutres to post on the seminar website.  We’ll note on here when we update so keep your eyes peeled!

Evolution 2010, day 4 roundup audiocast

Several authors from this blog are attending Evolution 2010. The conference is huge; with twelve concurrent sessions, it is impossible to see everything. In this audiocast, we discuss several noteworthy lectures from Day 4.

Download the audiocast here:

Evolution 2010, day 4 roundup audiocast (MP3, 22:17, 50.8 Mb)
The discussion panel includes: Victor Hanson-Smith, Paul Cziko, Julian Catchen, Conor O’Brien, Jeremy Yoder, Chris Smith, and Ingo Braasch.

Comments are welcome.

Evolution 2010, day 3 roundup audiocast

Several authors from this blog are attending Evolution 2010.  The conference is huge; with twelve concurrent sessions, it is impossible to see everything.  In this audiocast, we discuss several noteworthy lectures from Day 3.

Download the audiocast here:

Evolution 2010, day 3 roundup audiocast (MP3, 20:07, 49.1 Mb)

The discussion panel includes: Victor Hanson-Smith, Paul Cziko, Julian Catchen, Conor O’Brien, Jeremy Yoder, Chris Smith, and Ingo Braasch.

Comments are welcome.

Evolution 2010, day 2 roundup audiocast

Several authors from this blog are attending Evolution 2010.  The conference is huge; with twelve concurrent sessions, it is impossible to see everything.  In this audiocast, we discuss several noteworthy lectures from Day 2.

Download the audiocast here:

Evolution 2010, day 2 roundup audiocast (MP3, 20:07, 49.9 Mb)

The discussion panel includes: Victor Hanson-Smith, Paul Cziko, Julian Catchen, and Conor O’Brien.

Comments are welcome.

Evolution 2010, day 1 roundup audiocast

Several authors from this blog are attending Evolution 2010.  The conference is huge; with twelve concurrent sessions, it is impossible to see everything.  In this audiocast, we discuss several noteworthy lectures from Day 1.

Download the audiocast here:

Evolution 2010, day 1 roundup audiocast (MP3, 19:05, 45 Mb)

The discussion panel includes: Victor Hanson-Smith, Julian Catchen, Conor O’Brien, Bryn Gaertner, Chris Smith, and Jeremy Yoder.

Comments are welcome.

Mark Pagel at University of Oregon HBES conference

ResearchBlogging.org

Posted by Victor Hanson-Smith

Mark Pagel (MP) delivered a keynote lecture at the 22nd annual Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference, titled “The Rise of the Speaking Machine: Explorations in Language Evolution.”

MP has published several well-known papers on phylogenetic methods, speciation, and protein-protein networks, but his recent work investigates phylogeographic patterns of language expression [Pagel et al. 2007, Pagel 2008, Pagel et al. 2009].  This topic might seem eccentric for an EvoDevo blog, but I think the topic of language evolution is relevant to our interests for two reasons.  First, it reminds us that phylogenetic methods are useful for studying more than sequence data; rather, a phylogeny is useful for studying the evolution of any phenotype, including language.  Second, MP’s results strongly suggest that genetic evolution and linguistic evolution are governed by the same underlying patterns and processes; indeed, human language is simply a highly abstract phenotype.

MP’s hypothesis is that “language provides a digital regulatory mechanism for the newly emerged complex social phenotype of culuture.”  In other words, human language arose to regulate and vary our individual expression of the social phenotype, in a very similar way that the gene expression regulates the phenotype of cells.  If you missed MP’s lecture, you can absorb most of the content by reading the 2007 paper, 2008 paper, and 2009 paper.

Comments are welcome.

Pagel, M. (2009). Human language as a culturally transmitted replicator Nature Reviews Genetics DOI: 10.1038/nrg2560

EVO-WIBO 2010 highlights

Posted by Victor Hanson-Smith.

Several authors on this blog (including myself) just returned from Evo-Wibo 2010, a gathering of evolutionary biologists from the pacific northwest.  The talks were high-quality and covered a broad range of topics, from the macro (population and ecology interactions) to the micro (protein evolution).  I won’t summarize all twenty-seven talks, but allow me to highlight a few favorites:

Michael Doebli gave a talk titled “Complexity and Diversity,” which basically summarized his recent Science paper.  Michael’s main point is:

. . . if the ecological properties of an organism are determined by multiple traits with complex interactions, the conditions needed for frequency-dependent selection to generate diversity are relaxed to the point where they are easily satisfied in high-dimensional phenotype spaces.

Michael’s result is exciting because it sheds light on the origin of diversity.  Furthermore, the result seems obvious and leads me to wonder “why didn’t I think of that?”

Members of Bill Cresko’s lab (including Julian Catchen, Paul Hohenlohe, and Susan Bassham) gave a series of talks showcasing RAD tag sequencing [See here and here].  As a phylogeneticist, I am particularly interested in the potential to use RAD tags to identify sites that polymorphic within a population; these sites can be culled from phylogenetic analysis, thus removing a significant amount of “noise” when inferring inter-species phylogenies.

My final highlight is David Pollock‘s talk titled “Adaptation, Convergence, and Context-Dependent Evolution.”  David investigated why a very long phylogenetic branch leads to the snake clade.  One explanation is found in the large number of mitochondrial mutations allowing snakes to rapidly alter their metabolism in order to digest large meals.  I think David’s talk was interesting because it was the first (and only?) at this meeting to connect specific protein-level mutations to organism-level phenotypic changes.

Did you attend EVO-WIBO?  If so, I encourage your comments down below.  What presentations did you think were noteworthy?