Lecturer to Discuss Evolution of Birds in UA’s ALLELE Series

  • April 12th, 2016
Dr. Julia Clarke
Dr. Julia Clarke

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Julia Clarke, a professor at the University of Texas, will discuss modern birds’ relationship to dinosaurs April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ferguson Center Ballroom on The University of Alabama campus.

The lecture, titled “The Evolution of Birds and the Secret Lives of Dinosaurs,” concludes the 2015-2016 season of the Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution, or ALLELE, series and is free and open to the public.

An expert in the field of paleontology and evolutionary biology, Clarke researches how avian diversity and distribution have changed across centuries and millennia. By looking at animal lineages, Clarke tracks how new biological structures, functions and behaviors evolve.

Consequently, Clarke studies how the forelimb became a wing for birds and then how the wing became a flipper for penguins and puffins. She also studies the development of birds’ songs and how feathers became colorful. By studying the fossil record of these traits, she hopes that she will be able to identify general patterns in evolutionary novelty.

Clark is the John A. Wilson Fellow in Vertebrate Paleontology in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin where she has won research and teaching awards. She is also a research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History. She has done field research in Peru, Antarctica, Mongolia, China and New Zealand funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society.

The ALLELE series brings speakers to the UA campus to discuss aspects of evolution.

The 2015-2016 ALLELE series is supported by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Office of Academic Affairs, Honors College, the Blount Undergraduate Initiative, the Summersell Center for the Study of the South and UA’s departments of anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, communicative disorders, education studies in psychology, research methodology and counseling, English, geological sciences, history, New College, philosophy, physics and astronomy, psychology, religious studies and telecommunication and film.

Learn more about the series at evolution.as.ua.edu.

The ALLELE lecture series is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships and Goldwater Scholarships.


Dr. Dana Ehret, curator of paleontology, 205/348-7425, djehret@ua.edu


Courtney Corbridge, communications specialist, College of Arts and Sciences, 205/348-8539, courtney.a.corbridge@ua.edu

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.