Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, the pioneering population geneticist, will speak on human genetic diversity, language and culture in three Wednesday evening lectures on April 10, 17 and 24 at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia.
The lecture series, "Genes, Words and Ideas," will be presented at 6 p.m. on the three evenings at the Academy, located at 1161 Amsterdam Avenue between 116th and 118th streets. The lectures are free and open to the public.
Beginning in the 1950's, Cavalli-Sforza first had the idea that one could use genetic information to trace the genealogical trees of species, of human habits and languages. This method, now widely employed by scientists worldwide, led to the understanding of how humans left Africa and populated the rest of the world. It also helped clarify how farming spread from its area of origin, the Middle East, to Europe and helped reconstruct the evolution of languages. Cavalli-Sforza realized that an understanding of the evolution of mankind required the knowledge of both genetic mechanisms and cultural and linguistic features.
Cavalli-Sforza, who was born in Italy in 1922 and spent most of his adult life at Stanford University as professor of genetics, is the author of many widely acclaimed books on human evolution and genetics, including "The Genetics of Human Populations" (1971), "Genetics, Evolution, and Man" (1976), "History and Geography of Human Genes" with P. Menozzi and A. Piazza (1994), "The Great Human Diasporas" (1994) and his latest, "Genes, Peoples, and Languages," which The New York Times hailed for "dismantling the idea of race."
His comprehensive works combine genetic investigations of primitive populations with archaeological data to provide a convincing explanation for human evolution both genetic and cultural.
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