The 8th Standard Bank-PAST Keynote Lecture will be presented by Prof Nina Jablonski, who will discuss Skin: Its Biology in Black and White at the Soweto Theatre on 19 September 2012, at 18:30.
Universally recognised as the most important independent source of support for origin sciences research and education in Africa, the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) has been promoting and preserving southern Africa’s rich fossil heritage since its inception in 1994. Whilst retaining this core focus; PAST’s newest initiative, Scatterli ngs of Africa, is an ambitious effort to expand the organisation’s mission across Africa; through its seven successful programs which integrate education, research, and public outreach activities in the origin sciences.
The annual Keynote Lecture has formed an integral part of the Standard Bank’s longstanding support of PAST and has become a much-anticipated calendar event in Johannesburg. In line with PAST’s Scatterlings of Africa pan-African development campaign, and its drive to utilise the origin sciences to underscore the scientific evidence that we all share an African origin, this year’s lecture will address the origin and function of skin colour.
Skin colour is a biological characteristic loaded with cultural meaning. Skin pigmentation itself is a biological adaptation that regulates the penetration of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) into the skin. It is an evolutionary compromise between the conflicting demands of protection of the skin against UVR and of production of vitamin D by UVR. This compromise represents one of the best examples of evolution by natural selection acting on the human body. In the history of the genus Homo and of our species, Homo sapiens, skin pigmentation has been a highly changeable characteristic. Similar skin tones have evolved independently numerous times in response to similar environmental conditions. Skin colour is thus an entirely inappropriate characteristic for grouping people according to shared ancestry. The establishment of hierarchies of races based on preconceived notions of hierarchies of colour is a myth that has influenced the course of human history more adversely than any other. Greater understanding of how skin colour evolved and came to have social importance is therefore enormously relevant to human health and wellbeing, and the future of human societies.
Nina Jablonski is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University in the United States. She studies the evolution of adaptations to the environment in monkeys, apes and humans. Her research comprises descriptive and functional studies of living and fossil primates and theoretical studies of aspects of primate and human traits not preserved in the fossil record. Many of her studies have involved long-term collaborations with scientists in east and south Asia, and in eastern Africa. In the last 15 years, she has been increasingly absorbed in studies of the evolution of human skin and skin colour. Prof. Jablonski is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the California Academy of Sciences. In April 2005, she was awarded one of first twelve Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowships for her research on the evolution of human skin color. She was awarded the 2007 W.W. Howells Book Award of the American Anthropological Association for her book, Skin: A Natural History (University of California Press, 2006). In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from Stellenbosch University in South Africa for her research on the evolution and social ramifications of human skin pigmentation. She is currently a Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies.
Standard Bank is the exclusive sponsor and partner to PAST’s Keynote Lecture Series, which has brought the world’s leading origin scientists to South Africa. Previous speakers include Sir Richard Dawkins, Dr. Richard Leakey, Drs. Tim White and Berhane Asfaw (co-discoverers of famous ‘Ardi’ skeleton of Ethiopia – White is with the University of California and Asfaw is one of Africa’s leading origin scientists, a member of the U.S. Science Academy and a Trustee of PAST), and Dr. Don Johanson (discoverer of the famous Lucy skeleton from Ethiopia).
The 8th Standard Bank-PAST Keynote Lecture will be presented by Prof Nina Jablonski, who will discuss Skin: Its Biology in Black and White. This event will take place at the Soweto Theatre on Wednesday 19 September 2012, at 18h30. Entrance is free and no booking is necessary. For more information visit the website www.past.org.za or contact Andrea Leenen CEO firstname.lastname@example.org . Tel +27 11 717 6668
More Info: http://past.co.za
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