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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

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Have you ever wondered why the human body looks the way it does? Why our hands have five fingers instead of six? Why we walk on two legs instead of four? It took more than 350 million years for the human body to take shape. How did it become the complicated, quirky, amazing machine it is today?The truth is, hidden within the human body is a story of life on Earth.

Join Neil H. Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at University of Chicago and host of the PBS show "Your Inner Fish" as he speaks as part of IGB's Genomics and Society lecture series on Tuesday, April 14, 4:00pm at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Auditorium.

Neil H. Shubin, Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and host, PBS, Your Inner Fish
Neil H. Shubin, Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and host, PBS, Your Inner Fish.

Shubin is the associate dean for academic strategy of the university's Biological Sciences Division. He's also the author of two popular science books — The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body (2013) and the best-selling Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (2008). Your Inner Fish was named best book of the year by the National Academy of Sciences.

The focus of Shubin's research is the evolution of new organs, especially limbs. He has conducted fieldwork in Greenland, China, Canada, and much of North America and Africa and has discovered some of the earliest mammals, crocodiles, dinosaurs, frogs and salamanders in the fossil record.

One of his most significant discoveries, the 375-million-year-old Tiktaalik roseae fossil, is considered an important transitional form between fish and land animals. The 2006 announcement of the finding received worldwide media coverage and led to Shubin's being named ABC News Person of the Week. He's made many other notable observations regarding the developmental biology of limbs, using his diverse fossil findings to devise hypotheses about the genetic and developmental processes that led to anatomical transformations. He is also committed to sharing the importance of science with the public, and his lab maintains an active presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Shubin earned his Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.

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