The lecturers (l to r): Terrence Deacon, Bill Schopf, Steven Benner, Wallace Marshall, Sara Seager, Christof Koch
Tackling life's origins
Some of North America’s leading thinkers on the origins of life will speak at SFU this fall as part of the inaugural President’s Dream Colloquium, The Emergence and Complexity of Life.
It and the spring 2013 colloquium Justice Beyond National Boundaries are the first in a series intended to “build on a number of the goals of SFU’s new strategic vision,” says President Andrew Petter.
“By establishing a multidisciplinary forum for intellectual engagement the President’s Colloquium seeks to offer new learning opportunities for students, encourage interdisciplinary research relationships amongst faculty and staff and help foster a supportive campus environment.”
The departments of physics, molecular biology and biochemistry, biological sciences, biomedical physiology and kinesiology, psychology and philosophy are mounting the fall 2012 colloquium. It will explore such fundamental questions as: Where did we come from? What is consciousness? and Are we alone in the universe?
Up to 20 graduate and senior undergraduate students from any discipline can apply to receive credit for participating in the colloquia, including seminar discussions of assigned readings prior to attending talks by the colloquium speakers.
The six fall 2012 speakers, whose presentations will be open to the entire university community, are:
- Sara Seager, MIT astrophysicist and planetary scientist, who is a global leader in the hunt for new planets outside our solar system that demonstrate evidence of life.
- Christof Koch, CalTech professor of biology and engineering and chief scientific officer at Seattle’s Allen Institute for Brain Science, who studies how consciousness is linked to the brain.
- Wallace Marshall, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UC San Francisco, who studies the engineering design principles that control cell formation.
- Steven Benner, distinguished fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, who started the field of synthetic biology, invented dynamic combinatorial chemistry and established paleomolecular biology, where researchers extract ancestral proteins from extinct organisms in pursuit of life’s origins.
- Terrence W. Deacon, professor of biological anthropology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley who combines evolutionary biology and neuroscience to investigate the evolution of human cognition.
- William (Bill) Schopf, UCLA paleobiology professor whose research extended the generally accepted scientific date for the beginning of life from 600 million to 3.5 billion years.
For more information, visit http://at.sfu.ca/UbKuVf.