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KNOXVILLE — It’s a big anniversary for a big scientific event, and for the organizers of the annual Darwin Day at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, it calls for a big celebration.

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of biologist Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, “The Origin of Species.” As the father of evolutionary theory, Darwin’s work is recognized at UT Knoxville each year.

This year’s public events take place throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 11-12, on the UT Knoxville campus. All events are free and open to the public.

At noon on Thursday on the University Center Plaza, there will be a 200th birthday party for Darwin, featuring cupcakes, birthday festivities and a chance for attendees to have their picture taken with Darwin.

The annual keynote lecture will be delivered by James Costa, interim director of the Highlands Biological Station in Highlands, N.C., and a professor of biology at Western Carolina University. It will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, in Room 27 of the Alumni Memorial Building.

Costa’s talk, “An Origin Primer: A Guide to Darwin’s One Long Argument,” will address the basics of Darwin’s work in the context of its growth over the past 150 years.

A selection of films about both Darwin and the topic of evolution will be shown in Hodges Library from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. each day. Wednesday’s films will be shown in Rooms 213 and 251, and Thursday’s films will be shown in the Lindsay Young Auditorium.

In addition to the public events, this year’s Darwin Day also included a workshop for area middle, high school and pre-service teachers. Led by Mehmet Aydeniz, of UT Knoxville’s department of theory and practice in teacher education, and three graduate students in the ecology and evolutionary biology department, this year’s workshop focused on introducing teachers to classroom activities that promote active learning among students and that address specific curriculum standards.

More information about Darwin Day and a complete schedule of events is available online at http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/darwin/index.htm.

The UT Knoxville Darwin Day events are part of an international series of events held each year to celebrate Darwin’s life and his contributions to science. More information on the international Darwin Day effort can be found at http://www.darwinday.org.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)

Amy Turmelle (617-943-4003, turmelle@utk.edu)