The University of the Third Age (DLDK)

Future Events Programme

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'Evolution: It hasn't gone away you know! Evidence in front of our eyes'

Dr. David McConnell, Fellow Emeritus in Genetics, Trinity College Dublin

  • 📅Tuesday, June 22, 2021
  • 🕥11:00 - 12:00
  • 🏟ZOOM meeting (map)

David McConnell was educated at Sandford Park School, Trinity College Dublin (BA in Genetics, Gold Medallist, 1966) and the California Institute of Technology (PhD in Biochemistry, 1971). Joining Trinity in 1970, he was appointed to the Chair of Genetics in 1990 retiring in 2014. He planned and organised the Smurfit Institute of Genetics which grew to have more than 100 staff from 30 countries.

He is a molecular geneticist, that is, he is interested in the properties of genes as molecules, including the study of the evolution of genes, a field now called molecular evolution.

In 1976-77 he held an Eleanor Roosevelt Fellowship of the IUAC at Harvard University where he learned the very new revolutionary technique of DNA sequencing which has transformed the study of evolution.

Natural evolution is usually a very slow process, so slow that it is unusual to see it “in action”. As Darwin noted farmers have caused the evolution of domestic species, sometimes quite quickly, for example in the breeding of new varieties of potato or sugar beet in Europe. We can cause evolution to occur in laboratories using fast growing species of bacteria and viruses. But none of these is as spectacular as the evolution of new pathogens in nature – which the public would not easily associate with Darwins’ great theory of evolution by natural selection.

In this talk Dr. McConnell will describe some remarkable evolutionary processes that have occurred recently and in some cases are occurring – time permitting he will refer to flu, myxomatosis and HIV before discussing malaria and coronaviruses in more detail. Coronavirus is evolving so fast that he does not know what he is going to say about it.




'Operation Last Chance'

Dr. Efraim Zuroff

  • 📅Tuesday, June 29, 2021
  • 🕥14:30 - 15:30
  • 🏟ZOOM meeting (map)

This meeting will be hosted by the Current Affairs Group ✽

Dr. Efraim Zuroff is Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center – Israel office and Eastern European Affairs Coordinator, SWC Nazi war crimes research worldwide.

Efraim, who is New York born, moved to Israel in 1970 and received his Doctorate from Hebrew University. He is a noted academic historian and author who took on the role of Investigator at the famed Simon Wiesenthal Center in 1986 and is now the Director of the Center's office in Jerusalem.

He will speak about his experience as a Nazi-Hunter and his continuing efforts to identify and bring to light those responsible for Holocaust crimes who are still living in the shadows, aka ‘Operation Last Chance’.

He has authored several publications; his latest, co-authored with a Lithuanian, Ruta Vanagaite, is ‘Our People: Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust’.

✽ Note: Current Affairs Group meetings are open to both Full members and Zoom members to attend.