Philosophy professor awarded Fulbright for research on evolutionary theory

Philosophy professor Derek Turner has been awarded a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Philosophy of Science at the University of Calgary, Canada. Turner received the Fulbright in order to continue his research for his latest book project, “Evolution Without Change: The Puzzles of Evolutionary Stasis.” The semester-long placement will begin in January 2017.

Turner’s book will focus on the important role of stasis in the process of evolution, including exploring the ways scientists have tried to explain stasis and the role stasis plays in certain evolutionary models. His research will involve studying living fossil taxa—species, like horseshoe crabs, that have persisted for many years but haven’t changed much. He will also research large-scale statistical studies of fossil records and cases of “coordinated stasis,” where whole ecosystems have persisted with little change.

At the University of Calgary, Turner will teach a seminar to undergraduate and graduate students focused on macroevolutionary theory, and plans to cover evolutionary stasis. He also hopes to visit some of the nearby fossil sites.

This Fulbright will actually be Turner’s second; as a graduate student in 1996, he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to spend a year studying philosophy at the University of Goettingen, Germany.

In addition to his teaching duties, Turner is also the associate director of the College’s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment. In 2007, he was awarded The John S. King Memorial Award, which recognizes teaching excellence at the College. Turner has also authored two books: “Paleontology: A Philosophical Introduction” in 2011, and “Making Prehistory: Historical Science and the Scientific Realism Debate” in 2007.



April 4, 2016