For this last presentation, you’re asked to research an experimental evolution paper or some other paper that addresses the central issue of Gould’s “Tape of Life” analogy and A World from Dust: if we replayed the tape of life, which aspects of evolution would repeat? Focus your presentation on one biochemical paper about the repeatability, predictability, or contingency of evolution (with actual data in it – NOT a review). You will present this paper and the background necessary to understand it and its implications to the class in ten minutes.
Please select a paper of original research (not a review or popular science) from a peer-reviewed journal. The paper does not need to have “predictability” in the title: Search with terms discussed in the book (like convergence or constraint) and/or look for chemical “control” of evolution. Make sure your paper and presentation includes the precise biochemistry and molecular biology involved. Don’t pick a paper that is so biological that it doesn’t include any biochem. At some point, you should be talking about atoms!
Consider that your audience has not read this paper and try to provide background and interpretation of the results in your talk. Finding out about background may require additional literature searches and research. Wikipedia is an OK place to start, but properly citable sources should be used for all figures, important explanatory points, etc.
Some journals, like the Nature family of journals, have a subject page on experimental evolution, which is a good place to start, or you can look through the references in reviews on this topic. Other journals that focus on experimental evolution include PLoS Biology, Molecular Biology and Evolution, and the “Evolution” Section of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Be sure to have a significant understanding of the methods, and the limitations of the methods, as well as the conclusions. Finally, be sure to connect the findings of the paper to the big picture, including some of the arguments represented in Chapter 12 of A World from Dust, which is that some levels are more predictable than others. What levels are shown in your paper?
this talk you will be graded on the following categories:
5 points : explanation of background/evolution connection and methods
5 points : explanation of data and conclusions (you should be showing and explaining several figures)
5 points : analysis/critique/context of research (including three quiz questions/answers)
5 points : presentation/communication effectiveness (both visual and oral)
Did the paper you chose make a clear statement regarding evolution and predictability? Background context explained including situation within the story of evolution? Biochemical or evolutionary biology methods clearly explained? Results/data shown and connected to clear conclusions/interpretations? Are the strengths and weaknesses of the research clearly critiqued, and/or the paper put into the context of its field? Were three quiz questions with answers turned in? Oral and visual communication: Does the length fit the ten minutes given? Was the spoken style clear and effective? Do the visuals communicate well
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