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What are the Young Biologists doing in the Year of Darwin?
Agnese Kokina, Faculty of Biology

Almost two hundred years ago the Beagle went on a voyage around the world. Among its passengers was also the young Charles Robert Darwin, would-be founder of evolutionary theory. This year we celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday and a 150th anniversary of his famous work The Origin of Species.

On 17 October, 2009, commemorating these important events in science the Young Biologists School (JBS) held a class on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. JBS is a project initiated by the students’ self-government of UL Faculty of Biology, which has for over five years already been bringing together students from all around Latvia. The project aims to popularize the science of biology, thus the students of the Faculty of Biology prepare question rounds and as soon as the participant students have submitted their answer versions, the right answers are given and explained at once and additional questions, if any, are discussed. Also at the end of the class a lecture was given to introduce the students to the latest developments in the particular branch of science. Moreover, for about a year the overall JBS laureates have been granted rights to enroll as the Faculty students without entrance competition.

This time the number of those interested in biology was especially large (129 students), which slightly surprised the organizers, the students of the Faculty of Biology; however, the event was rather informal and friendly, which provided for the typical JBS ambience. Admittedly, it was repeatedly observed that the ninth grade students tended to give more detailed and extended answers to the questions than those of the tenth or even eleventh grade students. The questions covered a wide range of topics from the mechanisms of molecular evolution to the peculiar fact that Darwin was hypochondriac. In the end, the participants listened to a lecture reviewing the latest scientific theories on the origin of man.

The Faculty of Biology invites all interested students to attend the JBS Zoology course, which will start quite soon – on 28 November, 2009.