The annual LERN conference brings together evolutionary biologists from London and beyond.

When: 11th of November at Queen Mary University of London

Where: Fogg Lecture Theatre (ground floor of the Fogg Building) at the Mile End Campus of Queen Mary University of London.

Programme and abstracts: available here.

Keynote Talks:

Prof Judith Mank (UCL): The genomic basis of sexual dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is arguably the most pervasive form of intra-specific diversity in the animal kingdom, and the prevalence of sexual dimorphism in animals prompted Darwin’s conjecture of sexual selection as a force distinct from natural selection. Central to the study of sexual dimorphism is the question of how divergence occurs between the sexes within a species when so much of the genome is shared. In many cases, phenotypic sex differences are the result of transcriptional dimorphism, and integrating genome and transcriptome data offers a powerful tool for understanding the evolution of sexual dimorphism. I’ll discuss recent studies testing the relationship between sex-specific selection and phenotypic sexual dimorphism with genome and transcriptome evolution. These studies reveal the ways that selection navigates evolutionary constraints and sexual conflicts to create both inter- and intra-sexual phenotypic diversity. These observations and approaches are also valuable for understanding many other forms of intra-specific phenotypic variation.

Dr. Rosalind Arden (LSE): Evolution, intelligence and sex differences

Charles Darwin showed that natural selection shaped us. The project to explore how this affected our mental traits was given an injection of steroids in the 1980’s when a group of scholars held an extended workshop at the Stanford Centre for Advanced Studies. The term evolutionary psychology had been used a decade earlier, but this meeting poured rocket fuel on it. A functional approach to understanding human mental traits had emerged. At the same time, new findings concerning human intelligence were emerging from an intellectual tradition fathered by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton. I will discuss some empirical work in the context of the two traditions and show that sex differences in intelligence are anticipated by the theory of evolution.

Acknowledgements

This conference was hosted and funded by the School of Biological and Chemical Studies at Queen Mary.

The conference took place in the Fogg lecture theatre, in the Fogg Building, at the Mile End campus of Queen Mary University of London.

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