Return to The Houston Museum Of Natural Science Online home page.
Make a selection from the list of items below by clicking on the Select button.
Hatshepsut's failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her improbable rule as a cross-dressing king. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays in the veil of piety and sexual reinvention. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut shrewdly operated the levers of power to emerge as Egypt's second female pharaoh. Her reign saw one of ancient Egypt's most prolific building periods; her monuments, however, were destroyed soon after her death to erase evidence of her unprecedented rule. Dr. Kara Cooney will offer a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power-and why she fell from public favor just as quickly, as well as exploring complicated reactions to women in power. Book signing of The Woman Who Would Be King will follow the lecture.
Tickets $18, Members $12
Could extinct species, like mammoths, be brought back to life? The science says yes! Dr. Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in "ancient DNA" research, will present the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction, which could redefine conservation's future. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used today to resurrect the past - along with its practical benefits and ethical challenges. A book signing of Shapiro's new book How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction will follow the lecture.
Marilyn Johnson's will offer an entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies. What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost. Book signing of Lives in Ruins following lecture.
2015 marks the first exploration ever of dwarf planets. The two unprecedented missions-Dawn and New Horizons-will be mapping the icy dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto. Dr. Paul M. Schenk of the Lunar and Planetary Institute will review the missions as they explore the inner and outer solar system, and will share the top questions scientists hope to answer with the data they gather.
Dr. Schenk will show spectacular images taken just prior to the lecture as New Horizon reaches Pluto.
Dr. Schenk is currently assisting the New Horizons team as plan Pluto encounter observations for July 2015 and was a participant in the Dawn mission to Vesta in 2011. He specializes in impact craters and other features on icy satellites from Jupiter to Neptune, and in 3-D imaging, which he uses to measure topography and create really amazing views.
This lecture is sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Institute.
Although a child can tell the difference between a chimp and a man, identifying the specific DNA mutations that make us human is one of the greatest challenges of biology. The genomic sequence is approximately 3 billion letters long, with millions of mutations and rearrangements specific to humans. Using computational algorithms to compare our DNA to that of chimpanzees, other mammals, and Neanderthal and Denisovan fossils, we learned that the human genome did not evolve especially fast. Instead, it seems that a few mutations in critical places had big effects. Most of these "Human Accelerated Regions" are not genes, and science has no clue to their function when they were discovered a decade ago. New techniques in stem cell biology, genome editing, and high-throughput molecular biology are allowing us to discover the functions of the fastest evolving regions of the human genome and dissect how individual DNA mutations altered these functions to make us human.
Dr. Katherine Pollard is a Senior Investigator at the Gladstone Institutes and Professor of Biostatistics and Human Genetics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Pollard's lab develops statistical and computational methods for the analysis of massive biological datasets, with an emphasis on evolutionary genomics of humans and the human microbiota. She pioneered the comparative genomic approach to scan genomes of related species to identify regions that are evolving with different rates or patterns in a particular lineage. Using this technique, her lab identified the fastest evolving regions in the human genome and in the DNA of many living and ancestral species.
This lecture is sponsored by The Leakey Foundation.