posted September 2, 2008

Talks on Evolution and the Fossil Record of Whales

Dr. Philip D. Gingerich of the University of Michigan will present addresses on evolution and the fossil record of whales on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 18-19, while at Hope College as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar.

He will present "Fossils and Evolution: What We Know and How We Know It" on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m. in room 102 of VanderWerf Hall.  He will discuss "Origin and Early Evolution of Whales:  A Profound Transition from Land to Sea" on Friday, Sept. 19, 3 p.m. in room 1019 of the A. Paul Schaap Science Center.

The public is invited to both events.  Admission is free.

Gingerich's research interests include the origin of modern orders of mammals and quantitative approaches to paleobiology and evolution.  He has carried out field work in the deserts of Pakistan and Egypt, where he and his research team discovered skeletons linking whales to land mammals.  In 2001 he was a scientific adviser to the "Walking with Prehistoric Beasts" television series.

He has taught at the University of Michigan since 1974, and is currently the Case Collegiate Professor of Paleontology, professor of geological sciences, and director of the Museum of Paleontology.  He received the university's Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1997.

Among other honors, he has received the Schuchert Award of the Paleontological Society, the Dumont Medal of the Belgian Geological Society, and the Alexander von Humboldt research award for senior scientists.  He has been named a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Paleontological Society.  He is currently a member of the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, associate editor of "American Journal of Science," and co-editor of "Causes and Consequences of Globally Warm Climates in the Early Paleogene."

Gingerich earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University in 1966.  He completed graduate studies at Yale University, obtaining his master's degree in 1972 and PhD in 1974.

Each year, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program makes available 12 or more distinguished scholars who visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.  They spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions, and giving a public lecture open to the entire academic community.  The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the visiting scholars and the resident faculty and students.  Now entering its 53rd year, the Visiting Scholar Program has sent 555 scholars on 4,651 two-day visits since it was established in 1956.

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest academic honor society.  It has chapters at 276 colleges and universities, and over 600,000 members.  HopeCollege's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was chartered in 1971.

Gingerich's Thursday, Sept. 18, address is sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa, and the college's departments of biology and geological and environmental sciences.  His Friday, Sept. 19, presentation has been scheduled as part of the department of biology's weekly seminar series.  In addition to his public lectures, Gingerich will also be meeting with students in classroom visits and informal discussions.

The A. Paul Schaap Science Center is located at 35 E. 12th St., at 12th Street and College Avenue.  VanderWerf Hall is located at 27 Graves Place, between 10th Street and Graves Place (11th Street) and Central and College avenues.