FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      Date:  March 28, 2001

                                                                                      Contact:  Lezli Austen

Curator from the American Museum of Natural History to speak at UIS

SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Rob DeSalle, associate curator from the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Entomology and co-director of the museum’s molecular laboratories, will speak on "Dinosaur Genomes in Jurassic Park" at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 12, in the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Brookens Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

DeSalle’s recent project is Genome: The Code of Life, a museum exhibit slated to open April 7. Designed to introduce students to the basics of genetics, the exhibit shows the story behind the mapping of the human genome, and the potential applications and significant questions and issues associated with this new knowledge. The human genome is currently a topic in the news and in the curriculum and research in this area may potentially have a direct impact on the health and decisions of every student, family, and community. With powerful stories, dramatic images, and engaging hands-on activities, this display will create a range of learning and teaching opportunities for students and teachers from the upper-elementary grades through high school, supporting courses in science, life science, biology, social studies, and history.

DeSalle and science writer David Lindley are the co-authors of The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World: Or How to Build a Dinosaur, published in 1997. Analyzing the plausibility of Jurassic Park's premise — building a dinosaur from DNA preserved in amber — their book connects today's science fiction with tomorrow's science.

DeSalle’s fields of specialization are molecular evolution, popular genetics, molecular systematics, and developmental biology. His current research concerns the molecular systematics of the drosophilidae, or fruit fly, and the use of this group as a model for systematics. A second aspect of DeSalle’s research concerns the conservation genetics of endangered species.

DeSalle received his B.A. in biological sciences from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984.

DeSalle’s last exhibit, Epidemic! The World of Infectious Disease, examined in detail how best to control the worldwide spread of infectious disease. This exhibit explored the biological and ecological factors that influence the causes, spread, and control of infectious disease, and investigated the ways in which different cultures meet and fight devastating diseases.

For more information, contact Ann Larson at 206-7337.