Invited speakers

We are excited to announce the invited speakers for the EvoKE 2021 BCN Meeting

Magdalena Skipper
Nature Journal Editor in Chief, London

Contributing to the special topic: “Evaluating the role of literacy in evolution during the COVID-19 crisis”

Magdalena is a geneticist by training and has considerable editorial and publishing experience: having started in Nature Publishing Group in 2001, she was Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Genetics, Senior Editor for genetics and genomics at Nature, and more recently Executive Editor for the Nature Partner Journals. Before joining Nature as Editor in Chief she was Editor in Chief of Nature Communications. She studied sex determination at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, and Notch signalling in the vertebrate gut epithelium at the ICRF Laboratories (CRUK today), London. She is passionate about mentorship, transparent science and clarity in science communication. She has a keen interest in innovation in science publishing. Magdalena is based in the London office.

Oded Rechavi
Full Professor in the Life Sciences Faculty at Tel Aviv University

Contributing to the topic: Interdisciplinarity, tradeoffs between specialization and explore new fields through collaboration with experts in other fields

His mission is “to challenge fundamental long-held scientific dogmas”. Using C. elegans nematodes he provided direct evidence that an acquired trait can be inherited, worked to elucidate the mechanism and rules of small RNA-mediated transgenerational inheritance, discovered that the nematodes’ brains can control the behavior of their progeny, and identified a simple neuronal circuit-level mechanism that explains economic irrationality. Aside from his work on nematodes, Oded utilized genome sequencing of ancient DNA to “piece together” fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and demonstrated that Toxoplasma parasites can be genetically engineered to deliver drugs to the nervous system. He is an ERC Fellow, and was awarded many prestigious prizes, including the Polymath prize (Schmidt Futures), the Kadar award, the Blavatnik award, the Krill Wolf award, the Alon, and F.I.R.S.T (Bikura) Prizes, and the Gross Lipper Fellowship. Prof. Rechavi was selected as one of the “10 Most Creative People in Israel Under 40”, and one of the “40 Most Promising People in Israel Under 40”.

Ute Harms
Department of Biology Education at IPN, Kiel (Germany)

Contributing to the topic: “Challenges and opportunities to improve the scientific literacy on evolution through formal or informal education”

Dr. Harms is Director at the IPN –Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education and Full Professor for Biology Education at the University of Kiel (Germany) since 2007. She owns a Ph.D. in Cell Biology and has worked as a high school teacher for several years. From 2000 to 2007 she held Chairs for Biology Education at the  University Of  Munich  and  Bremen. As  a  VisitingProfessor(2011  to  2013)  she collaborated  with  her  colleague  Prof.  Lena  Tibell  at Linköping  University  (Sweden)in  the EvoVis project dealing with questions about how to enhance the understanding of evolution focusing on  threshold  concepts and  visualizations.Competitive  grants  she  received until today add up to more than 9 million Euros. Her publication list comprises today more than 160  contributions  to  national  and  international  journals  and  books several  of  them addressing research about evolution teaching and learning.

Kostas Kampourakis
University of Geneve (Section of Biology and IUFE)

Contributing to the topic:  “Challenges and opportunities to improve the scientific literacy on evolution through formal or informal education”.

Kostas Kampourakis is a science educator currently working at the University of Geneva. He is interested in the teaching and the public understanding of science, especially of evolution and genetics as well as of the nature of science. He has published dozens of scientific papers on various topics as well as authored and edited several books for specialized audiences and the general public. Kostas broad interests and competence will provide our meeting with the points of view of science education and philosophy of science to understand the influence that evolutionary biology may have on scientific literacy in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

A. Cecile J.W. Janssens
Research professor of translational epidemiology of the Emory University, Atlanta, USA. 

Contributing to the topic: “The challenge of dealing with ideologies, interests, beliefs and evolutionary theory”

Her research concerns the translation of genomics to applications in clinical and public health practice, with a focus on the genetic prediction of multifactorial diseases, focuses on theoretical and methodological questions in prediction and the assessment of the clinical validity and utility of predictive testing. She has written many invited commentaries about the appropriate use and interpretation of research methods and statistics. In recent years, she developed CoCites, a fundamentally new method for searching scientific literature. This method uses citations instead of keywords to find articles on the same specific topic. The method is ideal for literature reviews and meta-analyses, but also for quick searches to find the best-known studies on a niche topic. Also, she teaches Critical Thinking, Grant Writing, and Scientific Writing At the Rollins School of Public Health  and moderates the capstone projects and the journal club for our PhD students. At Emory College, she teaches Critiquing Health News.

David Jou Mirabent
Physicist and a poet, author of a wide literary, essay and scientific work

Contributing to the topic: “The challenge of dealing with ideologies, interests, beliefs and evolutionary theory”

David Jou is a physicist and a poet, author of a wide literary, essay and scientific work. PhD in Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, from 1989 he is full professor of Physics of Condensed Matter at this University, and doctor honoris causa of the Universitat de Girona. He has published more than 270 research papers and several research books and monographs. As a poet, he has published 23 books with a special focus on scientific, religious, political topics, as well as movies, paintings and arts. His essays are one of the most active examples of the third culture, namely, a bridge between science and humanities. Some examples are God, cosmos, chaos: horizons of the dialog between science and religion (2008), The expressivity of Creation (with Mònica Rozman, 2010) and The poetry of infinite: science and mysticism (2012). He has also translated to Catalan and Spanish language several books by Stephen Hawking as the Brief history of time, The universe in a nutshell or The grand design. As a popular-science writer, he was a collaborator of the section of science and technology of La Vanguardia (the main newspaper in Barcelona) from 1984 to 1994, and has given more than 350 public lectures.

Fernando González Candelas
FullProfessor of Genetics, Instituto de Biología Integrativa de Sistemas UV-CSIC,
I2SysBio, and Departamento de Genética. Universitat de València.

Contributing to the special topic: “Evaluating the role of literacy in evolution during the COVID-19 crisis”

His research interests are in population and evolutionary genetics, molecular and evolutionary epidemiology, molecular systematics and genomics, bioinformatics and conservation biology. he is  currently working on the molecular evolutionary epidemiology of different pathogens, mainly RNA viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and bacteria, such as Legionella pneumophila, Treponema pallidum, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae, among others. Recently, his lab started to analyze the genomic epidemiology of antibiotic resistance in Enterobacteriaceae. His basic approach is the analysis of nucleotide sequence variability at different levels, from intrapatient to world-wide samples, and from particular genes to complete genomes, depending on the specific goals of the different projects. Previously, he has studied the population and evolutionary biology of endemic Mediterranean plants, such as Limonium (Plumbaginaceae) species, by using an array of genetic markers (RAPDs, AFLPs, microsatellites, isozymes) and including the analysis of quantitative traits. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers and written two books.

Robert Harris Frank
Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management
and a professor of economics at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. 

Who was the greater economist–Adam Smith or Charles Darwin? 
The question seems absurd. Darwin, after all, was a naturalist, not an economist. 

Robert Frank, contributor to the “Economic View”, New York Times economics column and  best-selling author of “The Economic Naturalist”, predicts that within the next century Darwin will unseat Smith as the intellectual founder of economics. The reason, Frank argues, is that Darwin’s understanding of competition describes economic reality far more accurately than Smith’s. Frank has published on the topic of wealth inequality in the United States, the race for status, the importance of emotions in economy and the bias against cooperation that students of economy receive during their training. His work is a clear example of the transversality of evolutionary theory across disciplines and the importance of cooperation to economic growth.

And more to be announced!