When I posted about Daniel Matute giving the Dobzhansky Lecture at the evolution meetings, one of the commenters asked if his talk was recorded so it could be viewed online. At the time I didn’t know– I knew some talks were recorded, but I didn’t know which ones. Well, the recordings which were made have now been posted at a dedicated Youtube channel, Evolution 2014. Daniel’s, alas, is not among them. Since we all like squirrels though, here’s one on squirrels, “A history of high latitude adaptation in Holarctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus)”, by Bryan McLean from the Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico.
Recording talks for posting online was an experiment at this year’s meeting, and about 80 are available. You can usually see the slides well, the speaker not so much; the audio is soft, but audible on the ones I checked. You can browse the Youtube channel linked to above, or look at a list of the talks in a searchable spreadsheet format here. The number recorded may increase at future meetings.
Here’s one more talk, on “The tangled evolutionary histories of Madagascar’s small mammals”, by Katie Everson, from the University of Alaska Museum. This talk I saw “live” at the meeting– island evolution is just about my favorite topic.
As I noted in a previous post, the Evolution meetings this year (a joint meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Society of Naturalists) were in Raleigh, North Carolina. From a culinary point of view, North Carolina is known for its barbecue. There are many different kinds of barbecue, and North Carolina boasts of two different styles: eastern, which uses a vinegar-based sauce, and western, which uses a sweeter tomato-based sauce (the latter being more similar to the sorts of barbecue found widely across the US). I didn’t actually know about the western kind, but was looking forward to the more distinctive eastern vinegar-style.
I asked the bartender at Brewmasters Bar late one night where he would suggest to go for barbecue, and he recommended Clyde Cooper’s, so a day or so later I set off there for lunch with a couple of colleagues. The place was packed, and not just with convention goers, but a significant local clientele. I started with a lemonade
and ordered the chopped barbecue sandwich, with fries and Brunswick stew as my sides. I had the cole slaw put on the sandwich (which is the style in Washington, D.C.; I didn’t catch if this is the Raleigh preference, but they did ask if that’s how I wanted it served).
The side selection was not quite what I hoped for: my favorite Southern sides are okra and fried pickles, which were not on the menu. One of the colleagues I was lunching with is from from Asheville, NC, so I asked if they made fried pickles in NC and he said yes, they do, and he didn’t know why they were scarce in Raleigh. We did get pork skins and hush puppies.
The other barbecue place that I was able to try out (also recommended) was The Pit, a slightly higher class joint a block or two west of downtown, which I visited with two other colleagues for lunch. I ordered the chopped barbecue plate. They did have okra here (top right), but still no fried pickles, so I again got the Brunswick stew (plus hushpuppies).
I enjoyed both places, but I found the barbecue superior at The Pit. Both were quite tasty, eastern NC, vinegar-style barbecue, but The Pit’s had a much better texture– at Clyde Cooper’s it was kind of mushy, while at The Pit the meet had a more shredded texture– like it was pulled off the bone, rather than macerated. The hushpuppies were also superior there. The Brunswick stew was much better at Clyde Cooper’s, though. The Pit is a bit pricier, but only by a couple of dollars.
Some, such as the NC Barbecue Society, claim bbq was invented in NC, but the truth is more interesting. “Barbecue” is from an Arawak (or Taino) Indian word from the West Indies, “barbacoa”, referring to a way of smoking seasoned meat. The meat was placed on wooden racks, called “boucan”, and the Europeans who took up this method were called “boucaniers”. Down on their luck sailors of various nationalities used to hang out on the Ile de la Tortue off the north coast of Hispaniola, and visit the main island to catch or steal Spanish cattle to take back to Tortue for smoking. When the Spanish authorities tried to crack down on them, they took to extending their raiding and defending themselves with bigger ships– hence the origin of the West Indian buccaneers. Their piratical– and culinary– habits spread throughout the New World, for the latter of which we can be thankful.
At the end of last month I attended the Evolution 2014 meetings in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jerry already posted one note about the meetings from Mohamed Noor’s tw**t about the “banana creationist” who protested outside the meeting, and I’ll have a few more posts to add. A good place to start is with Daniel Matute, Jerry’s “hot-dog student” (Jerry’s phrase!), who was awarded the 2014 Theodosius Dobzhansky Prize by the Society for the Study of Evolution, as Jerry announced here earlier this year.
Dobzhansky, as we’ve noted here at WEIT before, was one of the greatest evolutionary biologists of the 20th century, a key figure in expanding the synthesis of Mendelism and Darwinism from theoretical population genetics into the more empirical disciplines, both through his own work and his influence on others; he is also Jerry’s academic grandfather, and thus Daniel’s academic great-grandfather. The prize recognizes an outstanding young evolutionary biologist of great accomplishment and promise; Daniel is the second of Jerry’s students to receive it (the first was Allen Orr). The chief duty of the prize winner is to give a plenary address at the annual meeting (and pick up the award check!).
Daniel’s talk was entitled “Drosophila, reproductive isolation, and speciation”, and concerned his work on the genetics of speciation, with special reference to the species of São Tomé Island in the Gulf of Guinea (here’s a video of a talk Jerry gave on the subject), and natural selection favoring pre-zygotic isolating barriers (a phenomenon known as reinforcement, because it ‘reinforces’ the isolation between nascent species). Jerry has discussed Daniel’s work in previous posts here, here, and here, and you should look at these for a fuller discussion of Daniel’s work.
Daniel also reflected on his path from Colombia to the University of Chicago, and now “soon to be professor” (as Dobzhansky always said) at the University of North Carolina, noting that English was a second language (saying that when he got here, “it was painful to read me”), and thanking all those who had guided and helped him along the way. He said, “Jerry is family to me.”