Biology and two important seminar series

A good seminar series provides a number of benefits to an academic department. Primarily it is an event that brings members of the program at all career levels together, often sparking new scientific conversations and building social relationships. Furthermore, it provides breadth of knowledge for everyone to complement their own research and a means to interact with the global academic community. The Department of Biological Sciences is therefore  proud to be involved in not one, but two premier seminar series in addition to its regular Friday seminar series, both of which are also open to the general public. These are the Darden Lecture series hosted specifically by Biology, and in collaboration with twenty other departments,  the ALLELE (ALabama LEctures on Life’s Evolution) seminar series.


The William Darden lecture series, kindly sponsored by Mrs. Eloise Hill, brings one prominent biologist to campus a year to specifically address current environmental and humanitarian issues. This year’s speaker, Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal, is an esteemed primatologist who provided the intriguing title  “Mamas last hug: animal emotions and what they tell us about ourselves”. We hope that you will all join us for future Darden lectures as it is a fantastic opportunity for anybody with an interest in science to get involved.   The continued support provided through generous donors from members of the public, such as Mrs. Hill,  are invaluable and allow us to provide this opportunity. Thank you, Mrs. Hill and others who have supported this series, in the past.


Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Despite overwhelming evidence for evolution, the topic has been considered controversial and it is often misunderstood. In 2004, this led a group of UA faculty to develop a seminar series to help communicate the science of evolution to the campus and community. Now in its 15th year, the Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution (ALLELE) seminar series strives to bring world experts on evolution to campus to give free lectures that are open to the public and accessible to non-specialized audiences. The 2019-2020 schedule embodies the diversity of topics encompassed by the seminar series including those hosted by biology faculty members such as  “How the cow evolved to beat cancer malignancy, and how humans can learn from it”​ by Gunter Wagner on 11/7/19, “Life on Eight Legs – How Arachnids can Inspire Science and Discovery”​ by Eileen Hebets on 1/23/20, “Evolution in Black and White: How Fruit Flies Change Their Spots and Stripes”​ by Trisha Wittkopp on 2/20/20, and “Why are women shorter than men?: The surprising evolutionary reasons behind sex differences in human height” by Holly Dunsworth on 3/5/20.


The series is supported by over 20 different campus departments (including Biological Sciences), colleges, and programs and is organized by the Evolution Working Group (EVOWOG) steering committee. Given the wide range of academic backgrounds involved in this process, Biological Sciences does not endorse the viewpoints or subject matter of all invitees, but we are proud to be part of what has been a very successful series over the last 15 years. Those interested in learning more, getting involved, recommending a speaker, or hosting a speaker are encouraged to visit the ALLELE website at