By Jade Griffin
World-renowned evolutionary biologists and husband-and-wife team, Peter Grant, Ph.D., and Rosemary Grant, Ph.D., will speak at the University of California, San Diego, on Apr. 21 at 3:30 p.m., as part of the Kyoto Prize Symposium. The talk is free and open to the public. The Kyoto Prize—now in its 25th year—is Japan’s highest private award for global achievement.
The presentation is one in the three-part Kyoto Prize Symposium hosted by UC San Diego, the University of San Diego and San Diego State University. On behalf of UC San Diego, Mark Thiemens, dean of the Division of Physical Sciences, will welcome the Grants.
Both professors emeriti of Princeton University, Peter and Rosemary Grant are the recipients of the 2009 Kyoto Prize in “Basic Sciences.” The Grants received the award for documenting rapid evolution caused by natural selection in response to environmental change.
Based on nearly 40 years of field study on the Galápagos Islands, the couple demonstrated that natural selection allows the morphology and behavior of Darwin’s finches to change rapidly in response to environmental fluctuations.
As part of their presentation, the Grants will discuss some of their most significant achievements involving detailed study of ground finches. The researchers revealed how beak size and shape evolve through natural selection within a dramatically changing environment, according to certain mechanisms and conditions. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.
The Grants are two of four 2009 Kyoto Prize recipients. The others include:
- In “Advanced Technology,” Isamu Akasaki, Ph.D., a semiconductor scientist, university professor at Nagoya University and professor at Meijo University in Japan, whose research led to the development of the blue laser and blue LED. Akasaki will speak at San Diego State University on Apr. 22 at 10 a.m.
- In “Arts and Philosophy,” Maestro Pierre Boulez, an internationally renowned composer, conductor and honorary director of the Institute for Research and Coordination Acoustic/Music (IRCAM) in Paris. Boulez will conduct selected portions of one of his major works at the University of San Diego on Apr. 22 at 3:30 p.m.
The Kyoto Prize was established by the Inamori Foundation in 1985 with the goal of honoring significant contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of humankind. The president of the nonprofit organization is Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus (retired) of Kyocera and KDDI Corporation.
For information and to register for the free symposium, please visit www.kyotoprize.org.