Noted Biologists to Gather at the Smithsonian

22-24 March 2000
Past, Present and Future of Biology to be Discussed

Some of today's most eminent biologists, experts in a broad range of disciplines, will review major advances made in organismal and integrative biology during the last century, and look ahead to future goals and challenges as part of a three-day public forum. From 22 to 24 March, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and the Smithsonian Institution present "Biology: Challenges for the New Millennium."

Take a tour through evolution with Ernst Mayr and Stephen J. Gould. Discuss energetics and ecosystems with Gene Likens. Discover the latest about tropical biodiversity from Daniel Janzen. Find out about biodiversity loss and conservation from Sir Ghillean Prance. Explore behavior, ecology, and evolution with Gordon Orians. Learn about the mechanisms and patterns of developmental biology from Marvalee Wake. Examine the processes of regulation from microcosm to Gaia with Lynn Margulis. And integrate biology and the human sciences with Edward O. Wilson.

"We have here finally a meeting that includes many integrative concepts that really transcend all levels of organization and in today's world, that's a necessary approach to all scientific study," commented John Kress, chairman, research scientist, and curator in the Department of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History. AIBS President Alan Covich explained that "this meeting offers three uniquely interactive days to revisit some of the major accomplishments of biology in the 20th century, complete with insights and synthesis by some of the nation's most respected scientists. These presentations and the discussions that follow will provide ideas about what might lie ahead in the coming century for biology and some societal impacts."

"Biology: Challenges for the New Millennium" is dedicated to honored guest and noted evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr of Harvard University. Dr. Mayr's contributions to the study of biological evolution, birds, and the history and philosophy of biology span virtually the entire 20th century.

Planning Committee Co-Chair Robert Hoffman, Smithsonian senior scientist, observed that "as we usher in a new millennium, we are reminded that there have been costs for all the progress we made in the last one. The time is right to apply what we've learned, not just to enhance that progress, but to make amends for it." AIBS Executive Director Richard O'Grady added, "Truly this will be a confluence of hindsight and foresight."

American Institute of Biological Sciences

Highlights of "Biology: Challenges for the New Millennium"

AIBS hosts a welcome mixer on Tuesday, March 21, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the meeting host hotel, the Key Bridge Marriott (1401 Lee Highway, Arlington, Va.). The meeting officially gets underway at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22, at the Baird Auditorium on the ground floor of the National Museum of Natural History, with a presentation of the AIBS Distinguished Service Award to Ernst Mayr. Following this presentation will be a video on Dr. Mayr's life and accomplishments, and commentary from Dr. Mayr himself.

Plenary sessions also will take place in the Baird Auditorium. Throughout the meeting, interactive synthesis sessions of small groups will take place in the Ripley Center, following each speaker's plenary presentation. Led by senior biologists, these sessions will allow for focused discussions between the speakers and the audience in the fields of behavior, biodiversity and conservation, development and morphology, ecosystems, energetics, environment, evolution, integration, regulation, and science and society.

On Thursday, March 23, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., the National Museum of Natural History hosts Celebration of the Millennium, in the IMAX Theater and the Rotunda with an introduction from Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI), author of the 1999 National Science Policy Study. The evening will also feature a showing of the Smithsonian=s new 3-D IMAX film on the Galapagos Islands, featuring commentary from the film's lead scientist, Carole Baldwin.

The meeting culminates on the afternoon of Friday, March 24, in Baird Auditorium with a lecture by E.O. Wilson. Following his presentation, Dr. Wilson will be joined by the other speakers and the audience in a roundtable discussion of points emerging from the synthesis sessions, and to sum up the meeting's accomplishments. Smithsonian Biodiversity and Environmental Affairs Consultant to the Secretary and World Bank Chief Biodiversity Advisor to the President Thomas Lovejoy will moderate the roundtable.

Other meeting features include a Town Meeting on Teaching Evolution, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, at the Key Bridge Marriott (Georgetown Ballroom), sponsored by AIBS and the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Most speakers will grant one-on-one interviews prior to the meeting, as well as on site. Contact the AIBS Communications Office for direct contact information for each of the speakers and to obtain specific on-site interview arrangements.

A complete meeting schedule follows this release and may also be found at

Press Registration

Members of the press may register to attend all events at no cost. Registration will be held at the welcome mixer on March 21 and at the National Museum of Natural History Constitution Avenue entrance March 22 through 24 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Phone, fax, printer, copier, and computer with Internet access will be available for press use in the press room.

Press room hours:
Wednesday, March 22 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 23 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday, March 24 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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