The Nancy S. Rafferty Lectureship: “Endless Pigeons Most Beautiful: Evolution and Development of Darwin’s Favorite Birds”

Date(s) - 06/23/2012
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Speck Auditorium

The Nancy S. Rafferty Lectureship
“Endless pigeons most beautiful: evolution and development of Darwin’s favorite birds”
Michael Shapiro, University of Utah
June 23 – Speck Auditorium, 1:00 PM


Michael ShapiroDr. Shapiro received an A.B. (Hons.) in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, an A.M. and Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine.  Dr. Shapiro is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the Early Career Teaching Award from the University of Utah in 2011 and NSF’s Early Career Development Award (CAREER) in 2012.

Dr. Shapiro’s research interests focus on the genetic and developmental origins of unique traits in natural populations and species of vertebrates. In most cases of trait evolution in natural and domesticated species, we do not know how many genes are involved, which genes are actually responsible for morphological change, whether alterations to these genes affect coding or regulatory regions, or whether the same genes are involved repeatedly in the evolution of similar traits in different populations and species. His work addresses these major issues.



The Nancy S. Rafferty Lectureship in Embryology was established to recognize Dr. Rafferty’s long career in eye research. Dr. Rafferty was instrumental in elucidating the ultrastructural relationship between lens accommodation and actin filament arrays in mammals and amphibians.

Dr. Rafferty received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois in 1953 and 1958, respectively, under the tutelage of Dr. S. Meryl Rose. Following her dissertation work, Dr. Rafferty completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University, where she subsequently served as assistant professor in the department of anatomy in the School of Medicine. In 1970, she and her husband Keen moved to the Chicago area, where she joined the department of anatomy at Northwestern University Medical School. She was promoted to professor in 1976.

During her career, Dr. Rafferty published 55 journal articles and 31 abstracts. She served on study sections of the National Institutes of Health and was a member of the Vision Advisory Research Committee. Dr. Rafferty traveled the world giving invited talks in Great Britain (Guy’s Hospital Medical School, Nottingham University, Oxford University and Edinburgh University), East Germany, Holland, Spain, Canada, Japan, Australia, San Francisco, Finland, and Sweden.

She first came to the MBL in 1955 as a student in the Embryology course and returned periodically to conduct research at the MBL beginning in 1988. Upon retirement from Northwestern in 1994, she moved her laboratory to MBL where she was a senior scientist and a member of the Corporation.

Dr. Rafferty and her husband long felt a love for the MBL and Woods Hole. She would have been particularly pleased that a lectureship in embryology has been established in her name.

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