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Science Lecture Series

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The Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University was established in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Philip Barnhart, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Jerry Jenkins, Chair of the Department of Chemistry. The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Seminar Fund sponsors the annual scientific seminars. Through these seminars, national leaders in science and technology share their insights about the future of scientific endeavor. 

The Science Lecture Series is coordinated by a committee, chaired by the Office of Academic Affairs and comprised of the Science Outreach Coordinator and representatives from the Science Division, including the departments of Chemistry, Equine Science, Psychology, Nursing, Physics and Astronomy, Life and Earth Sciences, and Mathematical and Computer Sciences.

2017 Science Lecture Series: 
The Animal Guide to Finding Love and Raising Kids

The George W. and Mildred K. White Science Lecture Series at Otterbein University will present a free public lecture by Dr. Jennifer Verdolin.

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017
Battelle Fine Arts Center

When it comes to dating, relationships, and family life, it seems us humans have some challenges. From fearing rejection to not knowing if someone really likes us, navigating our romantic lives can be a complicated affair. And just when we think we’ve got it all worked out, we start a family and things really get difficult. Whether it’s figuring out how and if to breastfeed (and for how long) or settling disputes between siblings, there are a myriad of issues parents have to figure out. This is where other species can help. Using animal behavior provides a contextual prism to view what is happening in other species and be more objective about what is going on in our own. Through this biological lens, we can explore different ideas of what it takes to have a successful relationship, what it means to parent, and why and how these behaviors evolved in humans and other species. And you just might find that discussing picky peahens, honest elk, and singing siamangs, makes the perfect segue into talking about dating in humans. While talking about pregnancy in male seahorses, sibling rivalry in sharks, and coot parents that punish greedy chicks provides the ideal transition to discussing some very sensitive parenting topics. At the end of the day, whether it's the blue-footed booby, the adzuki bean beetle, or a slew of other species, animals have a lot to teach us about love, relationships, and this thing called family.

Jennifer Verdolin is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biology at Duke University, as well as the Assistant Director of the Advanced Inquiry Program of Project Dragonfly in the Biology Department at Miami University. She received her B.S. degree from Florida Atlantic University, her M.S. from Northern Arizona University, and earned her doctorate in Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University in 2008. Verdolin’s research explores the evolution of social behavior and mating systems. Her current research includes work on the interaction of personality and social network dynamics. Her first popular science book, Wild Connection: What Animal Courtship and Mating Tell Us About Human Relationships, was released in 2014 (Prometheus). She is the featured guest of the segment "Think Like a Human, Act Like an Animal" on the nationally syndicated D.L. Hughley Show and was featured in the BBC One Documentary "Animals in Love". Her second popular science book, Raised by Animals: How Dolphins Bond, Why Meerkats Babysit, and Other Lessons From Families in the Wild, will be released April 2017 (The Experiment).

Science Lecture Series Past Lectures

  • 1987 – The Information Revolution

  • 1988 – The Three-Pound Universe

  • 1989 – Longevity: The Myths and Realities of Aging

  • 1990 – The Origins of Life

  • 1991 – Genetic Medicine: Accomplishments, Prospects, and Bioethics

  • 1993 – Backyard Biosphere: Environmental Technology and Ethics in Everyday Life

  • 1994 – Health Care 2000: American Through the Looking Glass

  • 1995 – Cosmology: the Universe Around Us

  • 1996 – Nature’s Mind and the Human Body: Darwin in Contemporary Psychology

  • 1997 – Educating for Community: Science and the Community

  • 1998 – Animals in Society: Exploring the Human-Animal Bond

  • 1999 – DNA Microchips: A Revolution in Nucleic Acid Diagnostics

  • 2000 – Women in Science: Lessons in Leadership

  • 2001 – NASA: Experimentation and Exploration in Space

  • 2002 – Nature and Nurture in Child Development

  • 2003 – G3: Gratifying the Globe Through Green Chemistry

  • 2004 – Got Nano? The Next Big Thing is Small

  • 2005 – Big Bang Boom: Einstein’s Universe

  • 2008 – Through the Looking Glass: The Meaning of Quantum Mechanics

  • 2009 – Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species

  • 2011- The Galactic Center - Uncovering the Pulse of our Galaxy

  • 2012 - A History of Violence

  • 2013 - Flipping the switch: how cells use RNA to regulate gene expression

  • 2014 - Green Chemistry: Lessons from catalysis

  • 2015 - Do Animals Lie?

  • 2016 - Time, Einstein and the coolest stuff in the universe.

/ Science Lecture Series

Bonnie Ward
Assistant Director of Sponsored Programs
p/ 614.823.1847
e/ bward@otterbein.edu