Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Predicting Future Evolution (Spring 2016)

Posted 10 May 2016 / 0

One of the activities that I regularly have my students complete in my Evolution course is called “Future Evolution“. The activity sends students on what most evolutionary biologists consider a fool’s errand: to try to predict the future evolution of some particular trait in some particular species. Making such predictions is really difficult for these basic reasons: Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Animal Domestication, Anthropogenic Change, Coevolution, Cultural Evolution, Evolution, Evolution Education, Human Evolution, Lesson Ideas, MSCI-260, Evolution, Prediction, Resistance Evolution in Parasites

It’s good to remember how fast things change, culturally & biologically

Posted 11 Apr 2016 / 0

The Pratt Institute Chemistry, Machinery, and Engineering buildings in 1950 (image courtesy of Pratt@125) A colleague of mine (Daniel Wright) sent around this image from Pratt Institute’s 125th Anniversary photo time line collection. It’s a pretty amazing testament to how quickly things can change in a culturally-evolving environment. These buildings still stand at Pratt: in Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Architecture, Climate Change, Cultural Evolution, Pratt Institute, Science in Art & Design, Sustainability, Sustainable Pratt, Sustainable Urban Design

What can be made by mimicking biological “assemblies”?

Posted 09 Apr 2016 / 0

A student in my Ecology for Architects course sent me the link to this TED Talk by Neri Oxman about some of her projects at the intersection of design and biology. I think that my student meant for me to watch it, and perhaps might have been interested in my thoughts, but the talk struck such a Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Architecture, Closed Loop Systems, Fashion, Film, Television, & Video, MSCI-271, Ecology for Architects, Science in Art & Design, Sustainability

Like to forage for mushrooms? Beware the Amanita!

Posted 15 Mar 2016 / 1

This short video, which came to my attention via the Scientific American “Observations” blog, does a nice job of explaining how an invasive mushroom species (Amanita phalloides) is causing new hazards for wild foragers in Northern California. The video is pretty basic — and a bit dramatic — but it does a good job of Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Film, Television, & Video, Fungi, Invasive Species, Mutualism, Survival, Temperate Forest, Temperate Rainforest

I visit Pratt’s Poetics Lab focused on play

Posted 18 Feb 2016 / 0

Last week I had the privilege of being a guest of Pratt’s Poetics Lab course, whose focus this semester is on play behavior. The course involves a number of different faculty and hosts a bevy of guests but is the brainchild of course coordinator Ira Livingston. My job was to introduce the biological and evolutionary approach to understanding Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Evolution, Evolution Education, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Play, Pratt Institute, Uncategorized

An eye is not an eye is not an eye

Posted 16 Jan 2016 / 0

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons National Geographic “Inside the Eye: Nature’s Most Exquisite Creation” This is another fantastic article by Ed Yong that very nicely captures the relativistic nature of the evolutionary process. We basically call any light-sensing organ an “eye”, but animals have eyes that perform radically different functions. How eyes work is a function Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Convergence, Divergence, Fossil Data, Interactions, Photography, Uncategorized

It was an honor to talk to St. Francis College!

Posted 14 Dec 2015 / 1

Last Friday (December 11th, 2015) I had the pleasure of speaking to students and faculty at Saint Francis College. I delivered a talk entitled “Highly-creative baby-breeding idea propagators: what human (re)productive choices mean for the future of our species” to an engaged and insightful audience; as this was the final week of classes, I really Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Evolution, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Natural Selection, Population Growth, Public Outreach, Sex and Reproduction, Social Diversity

Is family-linked terrorism a cultural and genetic phenomenon?

Posted 03 Dec 2015 / 0

National Public Radio “In Worst Attacks, Terrorists Often Have Fraternal Bonds” This is an interesting — albeit brief — piece on a recent “pattern” that has emerged in terror attacks: teams of attackers are often composed of blood relatives. As a good scientist I have to point out that there’s a danger here of over-generalizing Read More

A Major Post, Activism, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Belief, Breeders, Propagators, & Creators, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Data Limitation, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Genetics, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Human Evolution, Memetic Fitness, Mismatch theory, Phenotypic Plasticity, Public Policy, Radio & Podcasts, Resistance Evolution in Parasites, Social Diversity

That beard and deep voice may be to put him in his place, not attract her

Posted 09 Nov 2015 / 0

There have been a lot of evolutionary psychology experiments that have tried to define both female and male attractiveness to the opposite sex, an indirect way to get at the nature of sexual selection in humans. A new study published in Behavioral Ecology reminds us that sexual selection is not the only process that has Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Communication, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Uniqueness, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Psychological Adaptation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Reputation, Sex and Reproduction, Sexual Competition, Sexual Selection

Major masts made by multiplicative modification

Posted 22 Oct 2015 / 0

Ecology Letters “Extended flowering intervals of bamboos evolved by discrete multiplication” This is a great example of how theory can be used to explain patterns in nature by matching patterns in nature. Masting is a group-level evolved phenomenon: producing seeds in abundance during a single year where every other plant of your species is doing Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Multilevel Selection, Predation