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Evolutionary geneticist to give talk at UC Riverside on how biological species evolve and adapt

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Evolutionary geneticist John H. Werren will give the 2011 Alfred M. Boyce Lecture at the University of California, Riverside on Monday, May 16.

His lecture, titled "Using Nasonia (and its microbes) to reveal processes of adaptation and speciation," will take place at 4 p.m. in the Genomics Auditorium, Room 1102A, Genomics Building, followed by a reception at 5 p.m. in the Department of Entomology lobby. Both the talk and reception are free of charge and open to the public.

Excellent organisms for research and teaching, Nasonia are parasitoid wasps that have been the subject of genetic, ecological, evolutionary and developmental research for several decades. These small insects are easy to work with, making them excellent study organisms. Females develop from fertilized eggs, whereas males develop from unfertilized eggs, making Nasonia particularly suited for genetic studies.

Werren, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester, NY, investigates a variety of topics in evolution. Currently, his lab is studying the evolution of inherited microorganisms; the genetic basis of morphological and behavioral differences between species; and the genetic conflict and evolution of "parasitic" or "selfish" DNA.

He has authored or co-authored more than 180 publications and his work is highly cited. He has been instrumental in making Nasonia vitripennis the model system for parasitoid wasp genetic studies, and has recently completed the genome of this wasp. In addition, he is one of the pioneers in the work on reproductive parasites (Wolbachia) and other selfish elements in insects.

Werren's honors include: Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science; the Humboldt Prize awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany; and the Smithsonian Senior Fellow Award from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.

Werren received his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1980, following which he went into the army. Subsequently he joined the University of Maryland for two years as a research associate in zoology and entomology. He has been at the University of Rochester since 1986.

The Boyce lectures were instituted in 1977 and honor Alfred M. Boyce (1901-1997), one of the world's leading authorities on insects and mites that attack citrus and walnuts. Boyce served as the director of the UCR Citrus Experiment Station, first dean of the College of Agriculture, and assistant director of the statewide Agricultural Experiment Station.


Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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