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Darwin Day

DARWIN DAY is just around the corner!  February 12 - 15, 2018

The J.F. Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution invites you to join in our annual activities, as part of a global celebration of science and discovery.  All events are free and open to the public.  We thank our co-sponsors for their generous support.

Darwin Days 2018 Schedule

February 12th:

Darwin Day Tree of Life Event, 2:30-5:00 pm, Discovery Building Town Center

Walk the WID floor to visit 20 exploration stations teaching lessons and providing insights on evolution and the diversity of life on Earth.

Groundbreaking Discoveries in CALS, 4:45-5:45 pm, Room 1111, Genetics/Biotechnology Building

Lederberg and Bacterial Genetics

Millard Susman, Emeritus Professor of Genetics

Come hear Dr. Susman provide biographical perspectives on Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg’s pioneering research at UW-Madison, including his discovery of recombination in bacteria via conjugation.

Darwin Day Keynote, 6:00 - 7:00 pm, Discovery Building, H.F. Deluca Forum

Sex: the origins, evolution & consequences of meiosis

John Logsdon, Ph.D.

Join Dr. John Logsdon of the University of Iowa in exploring how our unicellular ancestors canonized sex into meiosis, and how this invention changed and shaped all their diverse unicellular and multicellular descendants. Using data gathered from biological systems that appear, in various ways, to be exceptions to many "rules" in sexual biology, his lab asks and attempts to answer a diversity of questions about the evolution and history of sex in all Life.


February 14th:

Special Geology Seminar, 12:15-1:15pm, Room 140 Weeks Hall

Caving for Carnivores: Climate Change, Ice Age Extinctions & DNA

Julie Meachen

Join Dr. Julie Meachen of Des Moines University in exploring the effects of extinctions and climate change, and their downstream ecological results, on the evolution of Ice Age carnivores.

Wednesday Nite @ the Lab, 7-8:15pm, Room 1111 Genetics/Biotech Center

Sex, cells, evolution: The molecular origins of meiosis & its sometimes strange natural history

John Logsdon, Ph.D.

Dr. Logsdon will discuss ongoing research from his group illuminating the molecular natural history of sex and meiosis through the study of diverse biological systems that appear, in various ways, to be exceptions to many "rules" in sexual biology. Using data gathered from studies of these various organisms, he asks: When did sex & meiosis arise? How and from what prior function(s) did sex & meiosis derive? How has sex subsequently evolved? Can sex & meiosis be lost?


February 15th:

Special Evolution Seminar, 12:30-1:30pm, Room 1111 Genetics/Biotech Center

Evolutionary origin of early plant microbiomes 

Linda Graham (Professor of Botany)

Dr Linda Graham will present metagenomic studies of 8 microbiomes of modern representatives of early-diverging algal and plant lineages she has used to infer the origin and early evolution of plant microbiomes. These metagenomes indicate diverse branches of life, even micro-invertebrate animals. 

Groundbreaking Discoveries in CALS, 4:45-5:45, Room 1111, Genetics/Biotechnology Building

Still conjugating after all these years

Nicole Perna (Professor of Genetics)

Continuing the theme from Dr. Millard Susman’s talk on Monday, Dr. Perna will explore how conjugation and other mechanisms of horizontal gene flow have shaped the evolution of bacterial genomes.


DARWIN DAY is just around the corner!  



If you are interested in evolution and outreach, we need your help!  Please volunteer to help organize or staff the events!  Get involved by contacting Daniel Minahan or sign-up directly here.

Consider making a donation - every little bit makes a difference!  Begin thinking about creating an Exploration Station for our hands-on family activity! Bring your ideas for how to make Darwin Day 2017 fun and informative for all ages!


Darwin Day is traditionally celebrated on or near Darwin's birthday, February 12. For several years, we have held events at UW-Madison around this time which emphasize evolution and its impacts on biology and society. Events usually include a family-friendly Tree of Life scavenger-hunt with numerous booths and activities organized by UW faculty, staff, and students; a Teacher Workshop for middle and high-school science teachers; and several speakers.

UW-Madison Darwin Day is on Facebook! 'Like' it to receive occasional wall updates.

International Darwin Day foundation website

Visitors learn about insects while exploring the Tree of Life at Darwin Day 2011.

Past Darwin Day Posters
(click on a year for photos, audio, video, and more!):

2013 2012 2011
2010 2009  2008