Oct 26 2021

PhD Dissertation- “How do we understand natural selection?” by Lucy Delaney

October 26, 2021

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

a skeleton with roses growing through the bones collapsed at a keyboard, above a pink scroll with the title of the talk.


virtual seminar


Chicago, IL 60612

Lucy Delaney will present "How do we understand natural selection?"  at 1pm on October 26th, 2021.

Abstract: Scientists make sense of the historical action of evolution by documenting patterns and investigating the causal processes that may generate such patterns. While computational tools provide power to investigate large-scale models of evolutionary change, uncovering true historical processes is only possible with accurate and meaningful data. First, I carefully evaluated thousands of published reports across two of the largest flowering plant families — Fabaceae and Orchidaceae, which together contain roughly 16% of all flowering plant diversity — to determine the frequency and phylogenetic distribution of one of the most powerful adaptations possessed by some of their species: the ability to genetically control their mating partners. I used this data to evaluate the current state of knowledge regarding the nature of this adaptation and its evolution in these groups. But despite the extraordinary advances made by evolutionary biologists since the publication of Darwin’s masterpiece, natural selection remains one of the most poorly understood mechanisms of evolutionary change among the general public. I turned next to the classroom, developing a framework and questionnaire to investigate how our students make sense of adaptations that result from the historical process of natural selection. The data I gathered from nearly 600 participants across all levels of biological study indicates that we fail to demonstrate to our students how to integrate biological knowledge appropriately and build robust frameworks that make sense of the discipline in a unified way. I show how the framework I developed may be used to address these serious pedagogical gaps.

For zoom information, please contact Emily Beaufort (ebeauf2@uic.edu)


Emily Beaufort

Date posted

Aug 24, 2021

Date updated

Sep 2, 2021