Zhang to deliver Bowling Green Buchanan Lecture
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Pioneering evolutionary biologist Jianzhi Zhang will discuss genetic changes underlying human origins as the Jean Pasakarnis Buchanan Lecturer at Bowling Green State University, Thursday, April 12 at 7 p.m.
Professor Zhang will present “On the path to humanity: genes lost, gained, and modified during primate evolution” in 112 Life Sciences Building in Bowling Green, Ohio. The event is free and open to the public.
Genetic changes in human and primate evolution have likely impacted who we are, what we do, and how we behave today. These changes include gains, losses and modifications of genes controlling sensory, immune, cognitive and other functions, and many of them are clearly adaptive. Nevertheless, there is no genetic evidence that humans have had more adaptive changes than chimpanzees since their separation six to seven million years ago. Zhang will discuss human and primate evolution in the context of biology’s overriding principle: natural selection.
He will also give a biology department talk, “Pleiotropy and why life is imperfect,” at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 13 in 112 Life Sciences Building. Pleiotropy is the phenomenon in which one gene or mutation affects multiple traits, with broad implications for many areas of biology such as adaptation, cancer, aging and sexual conflict.
BGSU’s annual lecture series was created in 1998 through an endowment by Jean Pasakarnis Buchanan, who graduated from Bowling Green in 1952 and went on to a 33 year career as a cytologist with Massachusetts General Hospital. She also taught cytology, which is the study of human cells, at Northeastern University. Buchanan received the Alumni Community Award from BGSU in 1972, and in 1987 set up a scholarship for biology or medical technology majors. Her lectureship endowment has allowed the university to bring some of the leading figures in biology and medicine to campus each year.
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