Art exhibit, public talks will examine recent discoveries in human evolution March 29-April 1

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Friday, March 23, 2012

A public lecture about human skin color and the opening of an art exhibit of DNA portraits will kick off the “What Does It Mean to be Human?” program series Thursday, March 29, through Sunday, April 1, at the University of Iowa.

The programs highlighting recent discoveries about human evolution continue on Friday evening with an event for teens, on Saturday with a series of public lectures and an educator workshop, and culminate on Sunday with a documentary film.

The events are free and open to the public, although the teen program and the educator workshop both require pre-registration by calling 319-335-0606 or emailing

The programs are sponsored by UI Pentacrest Museums — Old Capitol Museum and the Museum of Natural History — in collaboration with the University Lecture Committee and the Iowa Initiative in Human Genetics.

“This series of programs will highlight important advances in our understanding of the origins and evolution of our own species,” says John Logsdon, Pentacrest Museums director. “The speakers are top-notch, and the events will be thought-provoking and fun. We are especially enthusiastic to feature the inspiring topic of human evolution as part of our ongoing Directors’ Series at the Museum of Natural History.”

The programs begin Thursday evening at the Old Capitol Museum with “Gene Stories: DNA Portraits of a Diverse Community” by artist Lynn Fellman in the Pentacrest Museums Gallery for Arts, Humanities & Sciences. Both Old Capitol and the Museum of Natural History will be open from 6-9 p.m. Thursday.

This is a photograph of a woman named Nina Jablonski
Anthropologist Nina Jablonski will speak on the evolution and meanings of human skin color Thursday, March 29, in the UI's Old Capitol Museum.

Thursday’s events also include a University Lecture by Nina Jablonski, an anthropologist from Penn State University, who’s talk is titled “In Living Color: The Evolution and Meanings of Human Skin Color.” The lecture begins at 8 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of Old Capitol.

Richard (Rick) Potts, who heads the human origins department at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History, will give an academic lecture, “The Challenges of Becoming Human: Evolution in an Era of Dramatic Climate Change” at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, in Kollros Auditorium, Room 101 Biology Building East.

Other program events are as follows:

Friday, March 30

• 5:15-6 p.m., Gallery talk: Lynn Fellman, “Our Inner Neandertal,” Supreme Court Chamber, Old Capitol Museum.

• 6-9 p.m., “Science After Dark: Human Origins, a program for teens in grades 6 and up, Museum of Natural History, Macbride Hall. Pre-registration required.

Saturday, March 31

• 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Educator workshop, Museum of Natural History; Macbride Hall, free to educators but space is limited and pre-registration is required.

Public lectures, Macbride Auditorium.

• 10 a.m., Richard Potts: “What’s Hot in Human Origins.”

• 10:45 a.m., Nina Jablonski: “How Skin Color Evolved and Why It Matters.”

• 11:30 a.m., Briana Pobiner: “Behind the Scenes of a Smithsonian Archaeological Dig.”

Sunday, April 1

• 2 p.m., Movies@MNH: “ Journey of Man: The Story of the Human Species,” Macbride Auditorium.