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Spring Author Talks

PHILADELPHIA, March 10, 2014

The spring author talk series at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University features an eye-opening look at some cutting-edge issues affecting agriculture, oceans and watersheds, as well as “living dinosaurs.”

The talks are free and take place in the Academy’s auditorium. For more details about the following programs, visit

Why Birds Are Dinosaurs

Featuring Richard Prum

Free Talk

Thursday, March 27, 6:30 p.m.

Registration requested:

For thousands of years, birds were considered a special group of animals, set apart from other creatures based on their unique biology. In recent decades, researchers have established that birds are actually a living lineage of theropod (“beast-footed”) dinosaurs. Indeed, dinosaurs did not go extinct; they are the most diverse group of vertebrates alive today! In an illustrated talk, Dr. Richard Prum, the William Robertson Coe professor of ornithology at Yale and a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, will show how scientists arrived at this realization and how it has transformed the understanding of both birds and dinosaurs. Prum’s brilliant early career involved traveling the globe to record bird mating songs and dances. Since then he has made a series of discoveries that have reshaped the understanding of such fundamental questions as what feathers are for and how mating rituals drive avian evolution.


This Ain’t Agriculture: How Industrial Agriculture Hurts Animals and Public Health
Featuring Bernard Rollin
Free Talk
Tuesday, April 8, 6 p.m.
Registration requested:

Though agriculture has traditionally been based on an environmentally sustainable model emphasizing good animal husbandry, the emphasis in the last century on cheap, affordable food has pushed agriculture into an industrial model. This industrial agriculture poses major challenges to society because of its negative effects on animals, the environment, and public health, according to Dr. Bernard Rollin, a Colorado State University professor and leading animal rights authority. In his illustrated talk, Rollin will discuss how learning from the past can help with the challenges ahead. He will discuss how placing animals in environments befitting their natures is not only good for the animals, but also will help to ensure an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible agriculture for the future. Rollin is the author of 17 books and more than 500 articles on topics including veterinary medical ethics and animal welfare. He was a major architect of the 1985 federal laws protecting laboratory animals. This lecture is sponsored by the Drexel University School of Public Health.


Ruth Patrick Memorial Symposium: Environmental Thinking from Roots to Revolution

Tuesday, April 22, 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (Registration and breakfast: 8 a.m.; symposium 9 a.m.)

Free and open to the public

To register, visit

The public is invited to join scientists and environmental advocates in a free symposium that will explore the contributions of Dr. Ruth Patrick, the freshwater ecologist whose pioneering research on water pollution set the stage for the modern environmental movement. During her 75-year career at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Patrick, who died in September at 105, demonstrated that biological diversity holds the key to evaluating an ecosystem. A National Medal of Science recipient, Patrick’s research guided policymakers with accurate information about the environment and the benefits derived from its protection. Her tireless efforts to raise awareness about the environment motivated generations of young scientists to explore sustainability and environmental research. The symposium will highlight how her work has spurred the evolution of the field in the 21st century.

The symposium presenters are:

  • Carol Collier, executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission
  • Dr. Ellen Gilinsky, senior policy advisor, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, biodiversity chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
  • Dr. Rex Lowe, professor of biology at Bowling Green State University
  • Gustave Speth, J.D., former dean of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and professor at Vermont Law School


Caught in the Same Net: The Ocean and Us

The Cheryl Beth Silverman Memorial Lecture Featuring Carl Safina

Free talk and book signing

Wednesday, April 30, 7 p.m.

Registration requested:

Fisheries, coral reefs, forests, climate change, poverty, literacy for girls, and peace—these are all facets of the same issue, according to Dr. Carl Safina, president of Blue Ocean Institute, Stony Brook University. Drawing on his recent acclaimed books—The View From Lazy Point and A Sea In Flames—scientist and author Safina will weave a story that is both deeply personal and broadly global. Sharing travels that take us from his Long Island beach house to the high Arctic, Antarctica, and across the coastal tropics, Safina will show how the changes he has witnessed challenge not just nature but all of humankind. Safina also will discuss how science has ethical implications; how religion and science are converging toward common cause on environmental matters; and how moral responses can lead to crucial solutions. He advises that despite serious trends, there is a path forward.

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