NSM Seminar: Dr. Duncan Porter

Dr. Duncan Porter, professor emeritus of biological sciences at Virginia Tech, will speak at the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Seminar.

Friday, March 21, 2014  |  Garber 106  |  1:25pm

Dr. Porter with his daughter, bird watching.Dr. Duncan Porter, professor emeritus of biological sciences at Virginia Tech, will speak at the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Seminar at Ferrum College on Friday, March 21, 2014. During his presentation that begins at 1:25 p.m. in Garber Hall 106, Porter will examine “how Charles Darwin voyaged from rocks to worms in his search for facts to explain how the earth, its geological features, and its inhabitants evolved.” The event is free and open to the public.

A leading scholar of the classification of flowering plants, the history of biology, and Charles Darwin, Porter served on the faculties of the University of San Francisco, Washington University, and Virginia Tech. In addition, he collected and wrote about plants from Canada to Chile, Morocco, and Oman, and worked at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution, and National Science Foundation. Porter became a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London, Clare Hall (Cambridge University), University of Canterbury, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. His many written pages about Darwin and plants found in the United States and abroad include 10 books, 68 papers in refereed journals, 32 book chapters, 57 book reviews, and 18 popular articles. Porter became senior editor and director of the Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University; and received awards for his research from Phi Beta Kappa, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and the Science Museum of Virginia.

“Duncan Porter has been an important influence on students and scientists studying evolution and Charles Darwin for many years through his 10 plus books and the many classes he taught at Virginia Tech,” said Ferrum College Professor of Environmental Science and Biology Carolyn Thomas. "We are pleased that our students and other members of the Ferrum College community will have the opportunity to hear Dr. Porter speak."

Porter was born and raised in California. He attended Ventura College and received his BA and MA degrees from Stanford and PhD from Harvard, in Biological Sciences. A Postdoctoral Assistantship at Stanford studying the flora of the Galapagos Islands gave him a life-long interest in Charles Darwin. This led him to follow Darwin’s footsteps in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Ecuador, Chile, and New Zealand, and wish that he could see more of the places the great man visited.