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Sean B. Carroll
Sean B. Carroll

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

September 18, 2007

Pioneering developmental biologist Sean B. Carroll
will deliver annual Layman Lecture

DeKalb, Ill. — Developmental biologist and author Sean B. Carroll, whose work in the field of evolution has been featured in such publications as The New York Times and Time magazine, will visit Northern Illinois University to deliver the 2007 installment of the Layman Lecture Series.

Carroll is a professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He also is author of two recent and highly acclaimed books for the general reader, “The Making of the Fittest” and “Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo.”

Carroll will present a public lecture titled, “The Making of the Fittest: The Exquisite DNA Record of Evolution,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, in the Montgomery Hall Auditorium. He also will sign copies of his new books, which will be available for purchase prior to the event.

The lecture will address “evo devo,” or evolutionary developmental biology, a new field of biology that seeks to understand the development of organisms in light of evolutionary “tinkering” with a conserved set of genes that comprise a basic “tool kit.”

Earlier that same day, Carroll will lead a more technical seminar titled, “Endless Flies Most Beautiful: The Role of cis-regulatory Sequences in the Evolution of Animal Form.” The seminar, focusing on current research in his lab, will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 442 of Montgomery Hall. The seminar also is open to the public.

In addition to his books, Carroll has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific papers. His research focuses on the genes that control animal body patterns and play major roles in the evolution of animal diversity.

“Sean Carroll is a preeminent research scientist and is considered the leader in the field that has come to be called evo devo,” said Joel Stafstrom, professor of biological sciences at NIU. “Sean also has the remarkable ability of clearly communicating complex ideas to the general public. Understandably, his time is in great demand, so we are truly fortunate that he will be visiting NIU. This couldn’t have been done without support from the Layman endowment.”

The Layman Lecture Series is endowed by David Layman, an NIU alumnus who taught high school biology for nearly 40 years. The lecture series invites speakers to campus to discuss timely and compelling topics in biology. Past lecturers included John Avise (2005) and W. Ford Doolittle (2006).

Layman began teaching high school biology after graduating from NIU in 1957. He taught in the Chicago Public School system, 13 years at Richard T. Crane High School and 24 years at Carl Schurz High, before retiring in 1995. Layman’s recognition of the critical role that NIU plays in preparing good teachers has led him to establish various venues supporting education and students in the Department of Biological Sciences.

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