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Sunday, October 24, 2021

International Symposium to be held at UC Davis

UC Davis will welcome a variety of biology and ecology experts to its campus next week when it hosts the Harlan II International Symposium from Sept. 14 to18.

The symposiumnamed for the late evolutionary biologist Jack R. Harlanis the first to be held since 1997. It will focus on the progress made in agricultural biodiversity, specifically its impact on California’s agriculture.

“Since [1997], tremendous progress has been made in both plant science and archaeology research on the origins and the evolution of agriculture,said Paul Gepts, UCD professor of agronomy and co-chair of the event.The time is right to summarize the progress to date and envision future research in this area.

UC Davis was chosen as the location for the international symposium because of its strong reputation in science research and in celebration of its centennial, Gepts said.

“The campus has a strong research and teaching component, with biologists, anthropologists and archaeologists active in this area,he said.During these hundred years, the campus has produced a large number of improved crop varieties that are grown throughout the state.

Jared Diamond, geography and physiology professor at UCLA and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, is slated to give the keynote address. His speech will focus on the role that environmental factorsas well as pure chanceplay in the origins of agriculture, according to the symposium’s website.

Three of the symposium’s five days will be devoted to presentations and each day will have a different theme, Gepts said. The second day will highlight technical advances that have affected agriculture, while the third and fourth days will focus on the evolution of agricultural societies and the contribution of UC Davis to agricultural biodiversity.

Dennis Hedgecock, professor of fisheries ecology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, will give a presentation on the fourth day of the symposium. Hedgecock said he is looking forward to returning to UC Daviswhere he spent 30 years as a faculty memberto speak at the event.

“[I will] speak about domestication and conservation of genetic resources for aquaculture, topics on which I have spent my career,he said.There are enormous challenges in conserving while utilizing the planet’s imperiled aquatic biodiversity.

The symposium is a chance for attendees to become more knowledgeable about topics in science that affect them at a local level, Gepts said.

“We want attendees to know what the status of the science is currently and to understand where the field is going in the coming years,he said.Hopefully, there will be another symposium in a few years to assess further progress.

The symposium is open to the public and tickets for the Diamond speech can be purchased for $50 at 123 Science Lecture Hall on the opening night of the event.

ERICA LEE can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.edu.XXX

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