J. James Woods Lecture Series
The "Woods" Series was established by a generous gift from the estate of J. James Woods. The goal of the Woods bequest is to bring prominent mathematicians and scientists to Butler University in order to speak on theories at the frontier of their disciplines, as well as on related technologies and other issues of public concern.
The 2015-2016 Season is announced! See our entire 2015-2016 Woods Series Schedule.
Why Skin Color Matters
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room
Variation in human skin color has fascinated and perplexed people for centuries. As the most visible aspect of human variation, skin pigmentation has been used in the past as a basis for classifying people into races. Studies conducted in the past 25 years have shown that skin pigmentation is a biological adaptation that regulates the penetration of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) into the skin, and that it represents 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 our species, Homo sapiens, skin pigmentation has been a highly changeable trait. Genetic evidence indicates that similar skin colors have evolved independently numerous times in response to similar environmental conditions and, because of this, skin color is an inappropriate trait for grouping people according to shared ancestry. This lecture will discuss the evolution of the "human rainbow", how skin pigmentation influences our health, and how skin color has influenced societies and social well-being through color-based race concepts.
All Woods Lectures are free & open to the public—no tickets required.
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