Professor Gregory S. Gilbert to talk on April 29 about how to harness evolution to solve environmental problems

March 25, 2015

Professor Greg Gilbert

Professor Gregory S. Gilbert is the featured presenter at the Science on Tap event at the Crepe Place from 7:30-9PM on Wednesday, April 29th.

Gilbert will talk about work published this week in Nature on how being surrounded by close relatives increases the chance of getting diseased (See related story here.). He will address how novel pathogens, pests, and plants are introduced to California every day through the global movement of people and goods from around the world.  Most of these organisms are unable to thrive and are never noticed, but a small number become invasive weeds or cause destructive diseases or pest outbreaks.  How can we quickly identify which ones should we worry about, and which are unlikely to cause serious problems in California agriculture, forests, and grasslands?  A combination of studies of plant diseases in a Panama rainforest, analysis of USDA databases, and experiments in the UC Santa Cruz Great Meadow have helped to develop and test an online tool based on the evolutionary relationships among plant to help evaluate the risk from particular novel organisms when there is not time to do experimental studies.  This approach taps the knowledge we get from understanding evolutionary processes and patterns to help understand current ecological processes and develop tools to solve environmental problems.  

Science on Tap, held monthly at the Crepe Place in Santa Cruz, features scientists from UCSC who will present their work and engage in discussions with the audience in a relaxed setting. The informal talks are aimed at a general audience, including non-scientists and people not affiliated with UCSC.

The Crepe Place is located at 1134 Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz, CA. More information

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