Beth A. Shapiro – How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction

SHAPIRO FEL-sm“How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction”
Beth A. Shapiro, University of California, Santa Cruz

Friday, August 12, 2016, 8 – 9pm
Lillie Auditorium
Lectures are free and open to the public.

Introduction by Amy Gladfelter, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lecture Abstract:

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? Is it possible to clone extinct species using the same or similar technologies that created Dolly the sheep in the 1990s? What are the chances that the science fiction of “Jurassic Park” will someday become science fact? In this lecture, Beth Shapiro, ancient DNA scientist and author of “How to Clone a Mammoth,” will discuss the real science behind the emerging idea known as “de-extinction.” From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing and editing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, she will walk through the process of resurrecting extinct species, considering the technical, ethical and ecological challenges of de-extinction as well as its potential benefits. While she argues that it may never be possible to bring back an identical copy of a species that has gone extinct, de-extinction technology is likely to provide a new solutions to revitalize and stabilize contemporary ecosystems, with benefits to the preservation of existing biodiversity.

Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in the genetics of ice age animals and plants. A pioneer in the young field called “ancient DNA,” Beth travels extensively in the Arctic collecting bones and other remains of long-dead creatures including mammoths, giant bears, and extinct camels and horses. Using DNA sequences extracted from these remains, she hopes to better understand how the distribution and abundance of species changed in response to major climate changes in the past. The results could be used to help develop strategies for the conservation of species that are under threat from climate change today.

Associate director of the University of California Santa Cruz Genomics Institute and a research associate of the Denver Museum of Natural History, Shapiro has been widely honored for her research. She has been named a Royal Society University Research Fellow, Searle Scholar, Packard Fellow, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. In 2009, she received a MacArthur “genius” award. Her recent book, “How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction,” received the 2016 AAAS/Subaru Prize for nonfiction science.