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Population genetics expert presents lecture

L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, M.D., known as the “father of genetic geography and history” and considered by many to be the world’s leading expert on human population genetics, will deliver the Holland Lecture at Washington State University. Titled “Genes, Culture and Human Evolution: A Synthesis,” the talk will present the culmination of Cavalli-Sforza’s research and thinking on the relative force and interactions of genes and culture in the human evolutionary process.

The lecture will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, in Smith CUE 203. A reception will be held in the Museum of Anthropology, College Hall, immediately following.

Cavalli-Sforza, creator of Stanford University’s Human Population Genetics Laboratory, is an active professor emeritus in the Department of Genetics at Stanford’s School of Medicine. He is credited with advancing the study of the origin of modern humans and their evolutionary history by using genetic markers along with linguistic and archaeological data. In effect, he used genes and culture to reconstruct the history of humankind. Working in many disciplines, Cavalli-Sforza has been called “one of 20th-century biology’s greatest synthesizers” (David B. Goldstein, 2000, Science, vol. 289, p. 62).

“Cavalli’s vision has brought about a new way of looking at human evolution and, like every novelty, it has been controversial,” according to a recently completed scientific biography of Cavalli-Sforza by Linda Stone, professor of anthropology at WSU, and Paul Lurquin, WSU professor of genetics. The biography is being published by Columbia University Press and is due for release in April.

“It is an honor for Washington State (University) to host Dr. Cavalli-Sforza’s lecture,” said WSU Provost Robert Bates. “The cross-cutting nature of his work is an inspiration to us as a world-class university dedicated to projects that bring together the finest minds from many areas.”

The Philip C. Holland lecture is an annual event at WSU, funded through an endowment established by Ernest O. Holland, fifth university president (1916–1944). The lecture is named after his father, a physician in Indiana.

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