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Celebrated Anthropologist Nina Jablonski to Speak at Bard College on Tuesday, March 1

Jablonski is the Author of Skin: A Natural History and a Leading Researcher on the Evolution of Human Skin Color

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— On Tuesday, March 1, the Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series and Women and Science Project at Bard College present Nina Jablonski, the author of Skin: A Natural History, and a leading researcher on the evolution of human skin color. One of the unique attributes of human skin is its wide range of natural colors. Human skin pigmentation has evolved primarily in response to levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), and intensity of pigmentation is closely related to intensity of UVR. Skin pigmentation represents a classic evolutionary compromise between two conflicting functions: protection against high UVR and promotion of vitamin D production, which requires UVR. In human history, skin pigmentation has been a highly labile trait, and similar skin tones have evolved independently numerous times in response to similar environmental conditions. Variation in skin pigmentation is one of the best illustrations of natural selection in humans and provides an excellent example of evolution for purposes of teaching. Jablonski’s lecture, “The Evolution and Meaning of Human Skin Pigmentation,” is free and open to the public. It takes place at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center.

Nina Jablonski is professor of anthropology and chair of the Anthropology Department at Pennsylvania State University. In addition to the evolution of human skin and skin coloration, her research interests include primate evolution, the evolution of hominid bipedalism, and mammalian paleoecology in the late Tertiary and Quaternary. Her work has been published in numerous scientific and scholarly publications and been featured by, among other publications and outlets, the New York Times, NPR, CBS Sunday Morning, and the Colbert Report. She was awarded the W. W. Howells Award of the American Anthropological Association for best book in biological anthropology for Skin: A Natural History. She earned an A.B. degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College, and Ph.C. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology from the University of Washington.

For more information on this lecture, please contact Beth Gershuny at 845-758-7221 or

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This event was last updated on 02-09-2011