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The Disappearance of Species

Presented as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, May Berenbaum, professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; John W. McCarter, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of The Field Museum; and Neil L. Shubin, provost of academic affairs at the Field Museum and associate dean of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, consider the alarmingly increased rate of extinctions among many global species.

May R. Berenbaum is Swanlund Professor of Entomology and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1980. Her current research focuses on characterizing the structure, function, and evolution of enzymes used by plant-feeding insects to metabolize toxic compounds in their host plants. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Entomological Society of America, the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

John W. McCarter, Jr. is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Field Museum, where he has overseen the expansion of the Museum's scientific efforts, improved the Museum's galleries and scientific facilities, and deepened the Museum's commitment to public learning. A native Chicagoan, he is also a trustee of the University of Chicago and a board member and former Chairman of Chicago's Public Television Station Channel 11. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Neil H. Shubin
is Provost of Academic Affairs at The Field Museum. He is also the Associate Dean of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology and the Robert R. Bensley Professor at the University of Chicago. He has found new fossils that change the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution: the reptile-mammal transition, the water-land transformation, and the origin of frogs, salamanders, turtles, and flying reptiles. The author of numerous scientific papers, including over 20 in the journals Science and Nature, he has received many fellowships and awards, including a Miller Research Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, The Berlin Prize, and ABC News Person of the Week.

This program was sponsored by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in cooperation with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the Field Museum.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy's work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world.


Recorded Saturday, November 10, 2007 at The Field Museum.

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