November 1, 2009

Peterson Presents at 28th Annual Connell Lecture

VALDODTA - Valdosta State University’s Department of Biology will host the 28th annual Clyde Eugene Connell Lecture presented by eminent scientist Dr. Kevin Peterson at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, in the Fine Arts Building, Whitehead Auditorium.

Associate Professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth College, Peterson is an expert in the field of paleobiology, a newly emerging field of science that combines basic biology, geology and new findings in the area of molecular genetics.

During his seminar, titled “MicroRNAs and the Evolution of the Animal Phyla,” Peterson will focus on microRNAs and their evolutionary dynamics related to the sudden appearance of complex groups of animals such as flatworms, segmented worms, mollusks and arthropods as well as the vertebrates. A new and exciting tool in the study of molecular genomics, these are small, non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate protein-coding genes.

Peterson will also address various aspects of macroevolution in the animal phyla, such as increases in the complexity of organisms seen in the fossil record of the Cambrian period, as well as canalization, which is the maintenance of specific biological traits during times of environmental and genetic change.

The Connell Visiting Lecturer Program is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Clyde Eugene Connell, who died on May 22, 1985. Born on Aug. 11, 1916 in Naylor, Connell attended Emory Junior College in Valdosta and then served in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Navy until 1952, when he went back to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Valdosta State.

He returned to Valdosta as an assistant professor after earning his Ph.D. in Animal Ecology from the University of Georgia in 1958. A group of Connell's colleagues, students and friends established the program when he retired in 1980. It was the first endowed visiting lecturer program established at Valdosta State.

E-mail Theresa Grove at or call 229-333-5336 for more information about the event.

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