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Joan E. Strassmann

“Privatization, veils of ignorance, economics, and rapid evolution in micro-organisms."

November 15, 2013

“Privatization, veils of ignorance, economics, and rapid evolution in micro-organisms.”

Friday, November 15th at 3:30 in Monsanto Auditorium

Joan E. Strassmann is an evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology.  She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.

Professor Strassmann is interested in how cooperation can prosper in the face of evolutionary conflicts.  Her research focuses on cooperation at the extremes of sociality, in which some individuals give up their lives for others.  She and her colleagues have developed the social amoeba Dictystelium discoideum as a model organism for understanding the cooperative alliances that are necessary for the evolution of multicellular organisms, one of the key evolutionary transitions in the history of life. She uses both the social amoebae and Polistes wasps to explore social interactions at the physiological, genetic, and genomic levels.

Professor Strassmann received her BS from The University of Michigan in 1974 and her PhD from The University of Texas at Austin in 1979 where she was co-advised by Alan R. Templeton and Lawrence E. Gilbert. She was on the faculty of Rice University in Houston, Texas from 1980 until 2011, where she was Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  She moved to Washington University in 2011.