Botanist shaped future of science
The role of Joseph Banks in shaping the future of science will be discussed at a free public lecture at James Cook University in Cairns on August 30.
Director of the Australian Tropical Herbarium at the Cairns campus, Professor Darren Crayn, said Banks established the practice of including naturalists as crew on British expeditionary voyages when he set out in 1768 with Captain James Cook on his first circumnavigation of the world.
“Some of the greatest ever scientific advances in biology and earth sciences were made as a result of that practice,” Professor Crayn said.
“The most notable was Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection which was inspired by his adventures in the Galapagos Islands as a naturalist on the Beagle.”
The talk, ‘In search of plants: how Joseph Banks and the botany of Cook's first voyage changed the world’, will trace that journey and the botanical discoveries made at Botany Bay and the Endeavour River.
Professor Crayn completed his PhD at the University of New South Wales in 1998 then went on to work in the Republic of Panama for the Smithsonian Institution on a phylogenetic approach to the understanding of the evolution of photosynthesis in bromeliads.
After some time at the University of Oxford he returned to Australia in 2000 to a research scientist position at the National Herbarium of NSW in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.
In March 2008 he was appointed the inaugural Director of the Australian Tropical Herbarium where he continues his research into the origins, evolution and classification of the plants of Australia and neighbouring regions.
Professor Crayn’s presentation is the latest in James Cook University’s annual series of public lectures in science and engineering.
The lecture will be held in the Crowther Theatre at James Cook University in Smithfield on Thursday August 30. Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm and the lecture will begin at 6pm.
Issued August 23, 2012
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