University of Pittsburgh
October 1, 2001

From Bird Brains to Aliens from Planet Earth: Pittsburgh EcoForum Announces 2001-2002 Schedule Series of Six Lectures Opens Oct. 3 with Rainforest Conservation Talk

Contact:  412-624-4147

September 27, 2001

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh and six other area organizations comprising the Pittsburgh EcoForum will open the 2001-2002 Eminent Biologist Lecture Series on Oct. 3 with University of Utah biologist Phyllis D. Coley speaking on rainforest conservation.

The Eminent Biologist Lecture Series brings nationally renowned ecology experts to Pittsburgh to discuss their work. A subscription to all six lectures is $30; a student subscription is $20. General admission at the door is $6, $5 for students. All lectures will be held at 7 p.m. in the Carnegie Museum of Art Auditorium, 4400 Forbes Ave. Consult the EcoForum site for more information:

The consortium comprising EcoForum includes the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Biological Sciences and Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Mellon University, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, The Garden Place in Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Zoo.

The complete Eminent Biologist Lecture Series schedule follows:

Developing Bioprospecting as a Tool for Conservation of Rainforests, presented Oct.3 by Phyllis D. Coley, professor of biology at the University of Utah. For more than 25 years, Coley has studied the ecology of tropical rainforest plants in Africa, Asia, and the Neotropics. She has received the Mercer Award in Ecology and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Bird Brains, Bird Beaks, and the Biodiversity of Bird Songs, presented Nov. 7 by Stephen Nowicki, the Anne T. & Robert M. Bass Professor of Biology and Neurobiology at Duke University. Nowicki integrates physics, physiology, neurobiology, and behavioral ecology to study the evolution of animal communication signals. Best known for his work on bird songs, he studies a variety of organisms, from insects to primates.

Ecology and the Origin of Species, presented Dec. 5 by Dolph Schluter, professor of zoology at the University of British Columbia. Schluter investigates the ecological forces driving the origin of species and the evolution of differences between them. His studies have focused on the adaptive radiation of Darwin's finches and of the stickleback fishes of Canada.

Dinosaurs and Mammals of the Flaming Cliffs, presented Feb. 6 by Michael J. Novacek, curator of vertebrate paleontology and senior vice president and provost of science for the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Novacek studies patterns of evolution and relationships among organisms, especially mammals. His recent expeditions to Mongolia have yielded a series of celebrated discoveries of new dinosaurs and fossil mammals.

The Tree of Life and Its Importance to Understanding Biology, presented Mar. 6 by David M. Hillis, the Alfred Roark Centennial Professor of Integrative Biology and director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Hillis, a MacArthur Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, studies the diversity and evolution of life, especially by comparing genomes at the molecular level. He is a leading figure in the field of systematics, studying organisms ranging from viruses to coelacanths—ancient lobe-finned fishes.

Insects—Aliens from Planet Earth, presented Apr. 3 by May Berenbaum, the Jubilee Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Berenbaum, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, studies the ways in which naturally occurring chemicals affect the distribution and abundance of plant-feeding insects. She has authored numerous popular books and articles and is founder of the Insect Fear Film Festival.