The National Association of Biology Teachers is the preeminent organization of high school and college biology teachers from throughout the country.  The annual conference draws the most highly motivated and passionate teachers.  It features hundreds of workshops but this is the first time a speaker on evolutionary medicine was given prime time and billing as a keynote speaker, opening the conference.

The keynote speaker was evolutionary anthropologist, Katie Hinde of the Center for Evolution and Medicine and the Global Health Program at Arizona State University. Speaking to an audience of 1000 teachers and graduate students at the Association’s national conference in SanDiego, November 8-11, Dr. Hinde presented a captivating and thought-provoking talk “Baby Mine: 300 Million Years,the Evolution of Mother’s Milk, And the Rise of the Mammals.” A lively discussion followed.

Two days later,  50 teachers joined a workshop on Evolutionary Medicine: Medicine without Evolution Is like Engineering without Physics as Baba Brinkman’s rap song ‘So Infectious” played to welcome them. The workshop included three presentations. First, Mark Friedman, a Physio-anatomy teacher at Ánimo High School, Los Angeles gave an overview of the field of Evolutionary Medicine. Then A Magdalena Hurtado, Professor of Global Health and Evolutionary Anthropology at ASU introduced the new field of evolutionary epidemiology—a transdisciplinary integration of Public Health Sciences and Complex Adaptive and Evolutionary Systems perspectives. Benison Pang, Instructor at the Department of Molecular Ecology at UCLA, then gave a presentation on chronic diseases from a comparative perspective. He described how he and Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, from UCLA & Harvard, engage undergraduate learners in evolutionary projects through hands-on computer-generated explorations of phylogenetic trees. Many attendees left the workshop with DVDs and books donated by Mark Friedman for our EvMed raffle, and high school and college curriculum samples.

Article by Mark Friedman, Photos by Maria Klingler