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Adventures in Ankara


Last week, I hit the road for Ankara, Turkey, to participate in the 3rd International Congress on Evolution Under Scrutiny.

This conference, organized entirely by Turkish students, was held at Yildirim Beyazit University in Ankara, and featured several of the leading figures who deal with evolution and its relation to other fields, in Turkish (or Middle Eastern) science and philosophy. Among the speakers: Geneticist Rana Dajani addressed the conference from Jordan, via Skype, about “Evolution Stories: How Do They End?” Philosopher of science Caner Taslaman asked “May a Muslim Be an Evolutionist?” Physiologist Sinan Canan spoke on “How Is Evolution Questioned?” Other speakers included neuroscientist Sultan Tarlaci and evolutionary biologist Ergi Deniz �zsoy.

Ankara3.jpgI spoke on “Why Is the Origin of Animal Body Plans Still Unsolved?” in the last session of the conference.

Discussions before and after the talks were lively, with questions ranging across biology, philosophy, and Islamic theology. I was able to overcome a bad case of jet lag, and found several new Facebook friends among the conference participants, with whom I look forward to interacting in the months to come.

I want especially to thank my patient and kind translators — both those who made the Turkish lectures accessible, and those who translated my lecture into Turkish for the audience of science and medical students, who numbered in the hundreds throughout the day.

And by the way, the lamb and chicken kebabs at the reception following the conference were alone worth the trip.