Scripps Lecture Explores Evolutionary Discoveries behind Darwin's Finches


Two esteemed scientists from Princeton University who have dedicated their careers to studying finches made famous by Charles Darwin are the featured speakers at the 2016 Richard H. and Glenda G. Rosenblatt Lectureship in Evolutionary Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

The 11th Rosenblatt Lecture with Peter and Rosemary Grant is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2016, at the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment (Scripps Seaside Forum), 8610 Kennel Way in La Jolla, Calif. Admission is free for the lecture, which will explore Peter and Rosemary’s recent discoveries in the evolution of “Darwin’s finches,” populations of small birds that the famed naturalist first encountered on the Galapagos islands in 1835. Darwin’s investigations of different but closely related finch species helped him develop the principle of natural selection.

Conducting fieldwork in the Galapagos archipelago since 1973, the Grants will discuss their research describing Darwin’s finches as reproductively and ecologically isolated. Their research combines analyses of evolution patterns across the Galapagos with detailed investigations of finch populations on the islands of Genovesa and Daphne.

Blending genetics, ecology, and behavior, the Grant’s research resulted in their discovery of a new lineage of the species. They also have identified changes in the evolutionary trajectory of the birds and identified forces behind these modifications.

Peter and Rosemary’s research has been published in four books, most recently “40 Years of Evolution” (2014).

Peter Grant is the Class of 1877 Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, having trained at Cambridge University and the University of British Columbia. Before joining Princeton in 1986 he taught at McGill University and the University of Michigan. Rosemary Grant is research scholar and professor emerita in the same department. She received her training at Edinburgh University and Uppsala University, and taught at Princeton University.

The Grants, members of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London, have been recognized for their research with a long list of honors and awards, including the Balzan Prize in 2005 and the Kyoto Prize in 2009.

The lectureship is named after Richard Rosenblatt, the renowned ichthyologist and curator emeritus of the Scripps Marine Vertebrates Collection. Both passed away in 2014.

To learn more about the Rosenblatt Lecture visit here.

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