Upcoming BIG IDEAS @ScienceStowers

BIG IDEAS @ScienceStowers is a lecture series exploring how science informs and inspires our communities. Aiming to bring cutting-edge and provocative scientific ideas in an engaging and accessible way to the greater Kansas City community, the series is designed to inspire a thirst for scientific knowledge and illustrate the roles that scientific discoveries play in our lives and communities.

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Nature’s Palette: The Biological Significance of Color

Hopi Hoekstra

In nature, animals vary tremendously in their color and color pattern.  But why? And how?

Whether it’s the brilliant blue wings of a butterfly, the charismatic stripes of a zebra, or the camouflaging fur of a rodent scurrying in the underbrush, animals display color in vastly different ways. And color can serve many purposes – to conceal, warn, intimidate or attract.

For the last two decades, Hoekstra has been tackling the question of how and why animals vary in color with experiments both in the laboratory and in the field, using as a model what she refers to as charismatic mini-fauna (mice). But much of what she has learned in mice can be applied to other mammals, including humans. Hoekstra will discuss the many ways that color is made, used and perceived by animals – and how this diversity testifies to the power, elegance and ingenuity of natural selection.

6:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Event link will be sent to registrants the day of the event.




About the Speaker
Hopi Hoekstra is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University, jointly appointed in the Departments of Molecular & Cellular Biology and Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is also the Curator of Mammals in the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Hoekstra is an evolutionary geneticist who studies wild mouse populations using experiments both the field and the lab. She has been called a “Modern Darwin” by National Geographic as her work employs genetics to understand both how and why organisms evolve via natural selection. Her work spans the fields of ecology, evolution, behavior, genetics, genomics, and development.

Hoekstra has been awarded several prizes for her research, including the Ernst Mayr Prize from the Society for Systematic Biologists, the Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Naturalists, an Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young investigator Award, and most recently the Richard Lounsbery Award from the National Academy of Sciences. She is the former President of the Society for the Study of Evolution. In 2016, she was elected into the National Academy of Sciences, in 2017 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2018 to the American Philosophical Society.

Hoekstra has been recognized for her contributions to teaching by being awarded a Fannie Cox Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Sciences and, most recently, a five-year Harvard College Professorship. She is also passionate about science communication aimed at the broader science community and the public.



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