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CALS prof to speak at museum’s Darwin Day

What’s Charles Darwin got to do with the Irish potato famine? Find out Saturday, Feb. 13, when Dr. Jean Ristaino of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences takes the stage during the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Darwin Day, the largest event of its kind in the country.

Darwin Day will feature speakers and exhibits that tell the story of Darwin and what his theories of natural selection have done for the world of science, research and education. Participants will have the chance to meet some of the scientists who are continuing Darwin’s work and learn how his theories are being applied in cutting-edge research. In addition to hands-on science-education stations, there will be crafts and games for all.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum, which is at 11 West Jones Street in downtown Raleigh. For more information, see

At 10:30 a.m., Ristaino, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of plant pathology, will discuss Darwin’s studies on potato late blight, which caused the famine, and its relevance today.

Also speaking from NC State University are Rene Valdez, on “Predators in Paradise: Why are Some Hunters so Effective on Islands?” at noon, and Dr. Will Kilmer, on “Islands, Archipelagoes and Atolls: Darwin and Wallace Find Evolution” at 3:30 p.m.