Evolution Conference: Bret Payseur

As part of its mission to encourage engagement within the genetics community, PLOS Genetics is sponsoring a number of conferences and meetings this year. In order to raise awareness about these conferences and the researchers who attend them we are featuring a number of these conferences on Biologue, with posts written by the organizers or PLOS Genetics editors who are involved.

 The conference of the Society for the Study of Evolution started on the 20th of June, and is taking place in North Carolina. Bret Payseur, PLOS Genetics editor, says a few words about the conference and why he finds it exciting.

The Society for the Study of Evolution is meeting June 20-24 at the Raleigh Convention Center. This is a joint meeting with the Society of Systematic Biologists and the American Society of Naturalists. Participants include faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates from around the world. The meeting impeccably organized. I am delighted that PLOS Genetics is a sponsor of this exciting meeting.

Image credit: Kevin Dooley Flickr CC-BY

A unifying theme of the conference is biodiversity. Collectively, presenters provide portraits of evolution in organisms from across the tree of life. Both the patterns of biodiversity and the evolutionary processes that created them are of interest. Big, longstanding questions are discussed and debated through an impressive amalgamation of empirical and theoretical approaches. How are species related to one another? How do new species arise? What is the genetic basis of trait evolution? What are the evolutionary and ecological determinants of biodiversity? How do organisms adapt to their environments? More practical issues are also at the forefront of the meeting, including the prospects, challenges and limitations of genomic data for evolutionary biology. The smorgasbord of offerings is enough to inspire anyone interested in biological variation.

Of all the scientific meetings I attend, this is my favorite.

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