This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Cutting Edge lectures to begin

Published: March 3, 2005

Reporter Editor

The Cutting Edge Lecture Series, a series of Saturday-morning seminars in which top UB scholars in the arts and sciences give presentations aimed at increasing public awareness of rapidly advancing fields, will open its 2005 edition on Saturday with a lecture on the Human Genome Project by a world renowned UB philosopher.

In "Tracking the Human Genome," Barry Smith, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Julian Park Chair of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences, will discuss what scientists know so far about the Human Genome Project, an attempt to identify all of the approximately 30,000 human genes and provide tools for understanding their functions. By fully understanding genes, researchers will be able to test for the presence of particular forms of genes, develop new techniques for preventing disease, develop new medicines and treatments, and even correct faulty genes. Smith will examine the richness and complexity of the world of gene-based information, and what needs to be done to navigate through it.

Smith's lecture, and all others in the series, will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Center for the Arts, North Campus. Registration will begin at 10 a.m.; light refreshments will be served. All lectures are free of charge and open to the public.

The lecture series is designed to introduce prospective students to the College of Arts and Sciences, the series sponsor, and to UB, as well as to help them explore new areas of knowledge.

The remainder of the schedule:

  • March 12: "The Evolution and Development of Butterfly Wing Patterns," Antónia Monteiro, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, CAS. Monteiro says that all butterfly-wing colors and patterns come from the same ancestral wing pattern by the action of natural and sexual selection. In her lecture, she will discuss the developmental mechanisms that are responsible for patterning butterfly wings, how these mechanisms evolved from the common butterfly ancestor and the selective forces that may have been, or are currently responsible for maintaining the species-specific wing patterns that are observed in butterflies today.

  • March 19: "Rethinking the Americas at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian," Jolene Rickard, associate professor, departments of Art and Art History, CAS, and guest curator, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Rickard will offer a curatorial perspective on working with the 800,000-piece collection of the museum, which opened last September in Washington, D.C.

  • April 9: "Achilles, Aeneas and the Responsibilities of Power," Neil Coffee, assistant professor, Department of Classics, CAS. This presentation explores how the representations of Achilles—the greatest warrior of legend of ancient Greece—and Aeneas—the greatest hero of imperial Rome—in epic poetry provide different answers regarding the responsibilities of powerful individuals toward society. Coffee also will address how recent research into Greek and Roman culture reveals Achilles and Aeneas less as idealized individuals than as social actors struggling to confront society on its own terms.

  • April 16: "English Corsairs and Barbary Pirates," Claire Schen, assistant professor, Department of History, CAS. While most of us view pirates as team mascots and the stars of movies, Schen points out that the pirates of the past caused fear on the seas, disrupted legal trade and led to the enslavement of some people. She will discuss pirates from England and North Africa and their victims, and explain why piracy was a matter of real concern for Christian and Islamic kingdoms, republics and empires before 1800. She also will focus on what can be learned from piracy about the trade of ideas and goods, and the contact among people raised in different cultural traditions.

In addition to the College of Arts and Sciences, lectures sponsors are the Center for the Arts and WBFO 88.7 FM, UB's National Public Radio affiliate.

For further information, call 645-2711 or email