Stephen Stearns, Edward P. Bass Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, will present the Russell E. Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on Nov. 8 and 9, 2023, in Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library, Penn State University Park. 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 “The Evolution of Aging: The Current State of Play” will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8. The second, more general lecture, titled “The Scope and Impact of Evolutionary Medicine,” will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9.
Stearns has worked on life history evolution and evolutionary medicine. A 1967 graduate of Yale College, he earned an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. After a Miller Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, he was an assistant professor at Reed College (1978-1983) before moving to the University of Basel, Switzerland (1983-2000), and thence to Yale (2000-2021). Yale awarded him two prizes for undergraduate teaching. He retired in 2021.
His books include "Evolutionary Medicine" with Ruslan Medzhitov, "Evolution, an introduction" with Rolf Hoekstra, and "The Evolution of Life Histories."
He helped to found and served as president of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, the Tropical Biology Association, and the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. He founded and edited the Journal of Evolutionary Biology and Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. He was a vice president of the Society for the Study of Evolution and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2015, the University of Zurich awarded him an honorary degree.
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.