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Kyoto Prize Lecture

Message from the Dean

February 24, 2014

If there’s a subject students and the public could learn more about, it’s evolutionary biology–because contrary to popular belief, evolution is not simply a “theory.” It’s a fact. And if we know where to look, we can witness the basic principles of how living things have changed over time.

Bill McGinnis, Dean, UC San Diego Division of Biological Sciences

Bill McGinnis, Dean,
UC San Diego Division of Biological Sciences

One of the giants in the field of evolutionary biology, Dr. Masatoshi Nei developed the statistical tools that made it possible for biologists to discuss evolutionary divergence, genetic diversity and the mode of selection on genes. A professor at Penn State University and the 2013 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Basic Sciences, he will visit the UC San Diego campus for a public lecture on Tuesday, March 18 to talk about the methods he developed of measuring genetic variation and evolution over time.

As we know, evolution occurs through the repeated appearance of novel mutations that propagate within a population. These traits ultimately replace earlier genes. What Dr. Nei developed was a method of quantifying differences between populations, which has made it possible to estimate migration rates between populations and to estimate the time in which populations or species diverged. This method and other statistical tools he developed with collaborators remain the standard methods for deducing phylogenetic relationships of closely related species, such as humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. I hope you will join me in welcoming Dr. Nei to our campus and listen to his talk “Research on the Evolution of Biological Populations Using Quantitative Analysis of Genetic Variation and Evolutionary Time.”

The 2013 Kyoto Prize Basic Sciences Presentation with Dr. Masatoshi Nei will take place from 3:30-5:00 pm at UC San Diego’s Price Center West Ballroom. For more information and to register for the free talk, which is open to the public, please visit: