Faculty Colloquium: Chris Smith

Please join us on Friday, February 3rd at 3 p.m. in the Hatfield Room for the weekly Faculty Colloquium. The Colloquium will be presented by Chris Smith, Assistant Professor of Biology. The title of the talk is “Darwin’s Abominable Mystery: Coevolution of flowers and pollinators”.

His abstract: February 12th marks the 203rd anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the beginning of a conceptual revolution in science that the eminently respectable and proper Mr. Darwin could never have envisioned. At the heart of the Darwinian revolution is the idea that order and ‘extreme perfection’ can arise through purely natural, undirected processes. One area in which Darwin saw this extreme perfection was also a favorite example for early advocates of Natural Theology: the adaptations of flowering plants to their pollinators. How reciprocal natural selection and adaptation – a process now termed ‘coevolution’ – has shaped the interaction between plants and their pollinators remains a major question in evolutionary biology. My talk will review the history of coevolution and describes the ongoing research of Willamette students that examines coevolution between Joshua trees and their pollinators.