Lynn Margulis to Speak on Gaia and Symbiogenesis, Feb. 15, 2008

Dr. Lynn Margulis

Right: Dr. Lynn Margulis

SOCORRO – One of the seminal scientific researchers involved in evolution, the Gaia concept, and in work impacting astrobiology will be a special guest of New Mexico Tech’s astrobiology class on Thursday, Feb. 21. Her lecture will be free and open to the public.

Dr. Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Workman 101 on the New Mexico Tech campus. The title of her talk is "GAIA" natural selection and SYMBIOGENESIS "evolution."

Dr. Margulis’ publications span a wide-range of scientific topics, mainly in cell biology and microbial evolution. She is probably best known for development of the theory of symbiogenesis, which challenges a central tenet of neoDarwinism. Symbiogenesis holds that new organelles, tissues, organs, and even new species evolve primarily through the fusion of genomes in symbioses followed by natural selection, leading to increasingly complex levels of individuality. Beyond contributions to evolution, Dr. Margulis is acknowledged for her microbiological work with James E. Lovelock on his Gaia concept, which posits that the Earth’s surface interactions among living beings in sediment, air, and water have created a vast self-regulating system.

Dr. Lynn Margulis

Left: Dr. Lynn Margulis in the Galapagos

Dr. Margulis is the author of many books and articles and recipient of many awards. Recent publications include Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution (1998), Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (2002), Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on Nature in Nature (2007) both co-written with Dorion Sagan. Her first work of fiction is Luminous Fish: Tales of Science and Love (2006). Her book Five-Kingdoms: An illustrated guide to the phyla of life on Earth, first with K. V. Schwartz (1998), and now with Michael Chapman (4th edition in progress for 2009) provides a consistent, formal, illustrated classification of all life (phyla) on Earth.

Dr. Margulis was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983. She received the National Medal of Science in 1999 from President Bill Clinton. Margulis was president (2005-2006) of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society from which she received the Proctor Prize for scientific achievement in 1999.