Each year, Director William (Ned) Friedman and the Arnold Arboretum present the Director’s Lecture Series, featuring nationally recognized experts addressing an array of topics related to Earth’s biodiversity and evolutionary history, the environment, conservation biology, and key social issues associated with current science.
Ned Friedman, Director, Arnold Arboretum, and Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Monday, January 9, 2012
Think you know trees? Ned Friedman reveals an amazing period when there were no trees, and then, in the blink of a geological eye, several different groups of plants evolved the ability to increase their girth and qualify for placement in an arboretum. Get a sense of what forests looked like over three hundred million years ago. Learn about the (sad) extinction of all but one of the early arborescent lineages of plants and find out which evolutionary group of trees survived to populate the Arnold Arboretum and today’s forests.
Kirk Johnson, Vice President of Research & Collections and Chief Curator, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Monday, February 6, 2012
Earth’s climate has passed from times characterized by huge ice caps to times when there was almost no ice at all and both Greenland and Antarctica were covered by forests. Kirk Johnson studies fossil leaves to refine geologic time, reconstruct ancient landscapes, track climate change, and document the evolution and extinction of species and ecosystems. For 30 years he has been chasing the 50–100 million year-old-forests of the last great global greenhouse period. In this lecture, he takes you on a journey to an entirely different Planet Earth—an environment that may help us to better understand changes occurring in our own time.
Works of art from antiquity to the present constitute an alternate source of information on horticultural technology and science, providing significant information on subjects such as the history of technology, crop evolution, lost traits, and crop dispersal. Sources include ancient mosaics, sculpture, illustrations of medieval manuscripts, renaissance paintings, and illustrations from illuminated and printed herbals. The uses of art as a source of horticultural technology are illustrated using examples of Paleolithic sculpture and painting, Egyptian and Mesopotamian sculpture and painting, ancient Greek paintings, Roman mosaics, Medieval illuminated herbals, and Renaissance art in its many manifestations including illustrated prayer books, frescoed ceilings, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and woodcuts from printed herbals.
Noah Fierer, Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder
Monday, March 19, 2012
Watch the lecture on YouTube »
Microorganisms are ubiquitous and abundant on Earth. You inhale thousands of microbial cells in every breath and your body is home to 100 trillion of them. Only in the past few years have we been able to describe the enormous diversity of microorganisms that live in familiar environments, including your forehead, your computer keyboard, plant leaves, and the soil in your garden. In this lecture, Noah Fierer speaks about recent work exploring microbial diversity on the human body, the effects these organisms (most of which are not pathogenic) may have on our health, and how we may be able to use bacteria for forensic identification. He also discusses ongoing work exploring bacterial diversity in the atmosphere through which unexpected sources of airborne bacteria in U.S. cities have been identified. His presentation highlights some future research directions in the burgeoning field of microbial ecology and how this research will likely alter how we think about ‘germs’ and human-microbe interactions.