Making Medical Practitioners Biologists and Not Mechanics: Lessons from ISEMPH 2017

A long-standing concern of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health and its membership is that more than cursory education in the most basic evolutionary theory, or how scientific inquiry is conducted, is lacking from many medical curricula. This is alarming when we consider that medicine is a form of applied biology. As evolutionary theory is the principal principle that unites all biology (much as physics underlies all engineering), learning a form of applied biology should logically begin with an education in evolution. Furthermore, scientific literacy, and the ability to tell well-executed science from poorly executed research, is essential when evaluating a burgeoning literature ranging from experimental therapies to evolving pathogens.

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Conversations About Evolution and Pokémon

Having spent two summers teaching natural science at Governor’s School West in North Carolina, I’ve absorbed some valuable lessons. These lessons include how to interact with students from a wide cross-section of backgrounds who are united by an interest in science, how to collaborate with instructors who have diverse experiences and herald from various disciplines, and how to spark curiosity in students who mostly have not considered where their interests and passions will lie. To be honest, I’d never even considered teaching high schoolers before I started working at the Governor’s School. As it turns out, there’s a lot of good that comes from teaching evolution to a bunch of budding scientists.

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A Melting Pot, or Just a Salad? Evaluating Population History Through Gene Flow

Gene flow is superficially a simple concept; we may liken this evolutionary mechanism to a melting pot. At a fundamental level, when individuals from two defined groups exchange genes, these populations have experienced gene flow. New gene(s) are introduced into one or both populations, and the population becomes more diverse through an increase in genetic variance. When teaching evolution at an introductory level, we generally conclude our explanations at this point.However, identifying gene flow in the past is considerably more difficult.

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