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The Russell E. Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology set for February 28 and March 01, 2022

23 February 2022
Erich Jarvis
Erich Jarvis. Image provided.

Erich Jarvis, professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language at the Rockefeller University and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will present the Russell E. Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on February 28 and March 01, 2022, virtually via Zoom. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science. 
The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience as well as a more specialized lecture. The first, more specialized lecture, titled "Neurobiology of vocal learning and spoken language” will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 28. The second, more general lecture, titled “The Vertebrate Genomes Project: Sequencing life for a new era in biology" will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 01. 
Jarvis studies the molecular and genetic mechanisms that underlie vocal learning, using birdsong as a primary model for human spoken language. He has developed an integrative approach that combines computational, behavioral, physiological, and molecular techniques to uncover not only the neural genetics of vocal learning, but also the evolution of this complex behavior. Jarvis’s studies comparing neural structure and gene expression in songbirds and other species have led him to theorize that the brain pathways for vocal learning in both birds and humans likely evolved from a motor circuit common to all vertebrates. By harnessing new technologies to elucidate the biological mechanisms that underlie vocal learning, Jarvis is further exploring how neural circuits are established.
Jarvis also leads the Vertebrate Genomes project, is a co-PI of the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium and part of the Earth Biogenome Project. He has received several awards and honors for his achievements, including one of the highest awards given by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the NIH Director's Pioneer Award—and one of the highest given by the National Science Foundation (NSF)—the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award.
Jarvis earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics at Hunter College in 1988 and a doctoral degree at the Rockefeller University in 1995. He completed his postdoctoral studies in Molecular Neurobiology and Animal Behavior at the Rockefeller University in 1998. He served on the faculty at Duke University from 1998 to 2005, as an adjunct at the Rockefeller University from 1998-2002, and then joined the faculty at the Rockefeller University in 2008.
The Marker lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences, and physics.